Russian news agency, Russia Today, reports on Israel’s recent oil and gas discoveries and international tensions with Lebanon over disputed territorial boundaries. Onshore, Russia Today, briefly reports on Givot Olam’s Rosh Ha’Ayin site but does not mention the Zion Oil & Gas exploration area or the Joseph Project.
Back in August we reported on oil exploration efforts in the Judean Reserve of southern Israel. It looks like the Ginko/Delek/Avner partnership has past a final hurdle with the state of Israel. Environmental concerns on Reserve land have been the primary issue in delaying exploration approval.
Below is the November 6 Jerusalem Post article. The original article can be viewed at http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull&cid=1225910056665.
Exploratory drilling for oil in Judean Desert passes final hurdle
The Council of National Parks and Nature Reserves on Thursday approved exploratory drilling for oil in the Judean Desert Nature Reserve, where three companies – Ginko Oil Exploration, Delek Energy Systems, and Avner – believe there could be as much as 6.5 million barrels’ worth.
Drilling for oil in the Judean Desert was approved yesterday by the Council of National Parks and Nature Reserves.
The companies believe that Zuk Tamrur 4, just north of Route 31 from Arad to the Dead Sea, is the best chance Israel has to find oil. That many barrels of oil, while not enough to power the country for more than a month, would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski
The council’s okay followed approval by the Nature and Parks Authority’s (NPA) Assembly, its highest governing body. The 23-member council advises the Environmental Protection Ministry and the NPA on matters of policy. It includes government, environmental, academic and public representatives.
Ginko director Rami Karmin told The Jerusalem Post Thursday that the drilling, the equipment and environmental requirements would cost between $5 million and $7m.
Hebrew University Institute of Earth Sciences Raymond F. Kravis Professor of Geology (Emeritus) Zvi Garfunkel told the Post Thursday that the fact that oil had been found previously could mean there was more.
“In previous drillings, they found a little bit of oil. Indeed, this is Zuk Tamrur 4. There might be a larger reservoir [around there]. But drilling companies usually keep the results of their surveys private,” he said. “There is no smoke without fire, but how big the smoke is and how big the fire is – only the companies know.”
The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) vehemently opposed the decision because of its potential impact on the reserve’s fragile ecosystem.
“The state’s institutions are obligated to protect the open spaces, the nature reserves, and most certainly such a special reserve like the Judean Desert, where biodiversity and an ecological system exist almost in their entirety. Therefore we are distressed that this was the decision reached,” Shai Tachnai, SPNI’s southern district coordinator for the preservation of nature, said in a statement.
SPNI quoted the representative of the National Infrastructures Ministry saying at the meeting Thursday morning that there was a 15-percent chance of finding oil below the reserve.
“In the last decade, we have brought about a revolution and turned the Negev and the Judean Desert from a land of quarries to a land of machteshim (erosion craters) and natural attractions. A 15% chance of finding oil does not justify the irreversible damage expected to occur,” Tachnai said.
Regarding that number, Karmin said the companies had never published such an assessment, but “we are optimistic.”
While SPNI protested, the NPA and Environmental Protection Ministry’s representatives voted in favor of the drilling Thursday. During the negotiations for approval from the NPA’s assembly, it was agreed that if oil were found, the pumping would take place from outside the reserve and the companies would rehabilitate any damage caused.
To test for oil, the companies would drill a 2,000-meter hole over 1.25 acres.
Delek Energy Systems and Avner are both controlled by Yitzhak Tshuva.
Does Israel really have oil? That seems to be the question everyone’s asking. Maybe it’s the wrong question. Turn’s out, Exxon and Shell have known about Israel’s oil for nearly ten years. Here’s a clipping from The Jerusalem Post, March 5, 1999. I’ll copy the text here since the clipping is a little hard to read (click on the clipping for a cleaner version).
As a geologist and managing director of various oil exploration companies in Israel over the past 20 years, I was quoted in several paragraphs of Michael Arnold’s article “Slippery dreams” (January 22). I would like to amend and add certain facts as follows:
The oil potential of Israel was evaluated twice at the request of the Israeli government. In 1962, Lewis Weeks, the former chief geologist at Exxon, determined that “the potential ultimate oil resources of Israel should be of the order of 500 to 2,000 million barrels from primary recovery… The figures do not include gas… which may equal 50% and upwards of that of the oil.”
In 1979, James Wilson, former chief geologist or Shell (US) determined that on-shore Israel (the off-shore and the Dead Sea Rift Valley were not included) has a potential of330 to 2,000 million barrels of recoverable oil.
Both these experts have been president of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.
Since the Wilson evaluation in 1979, extensive data have been accumulated relating to on-shore and off-shore Israel. From this data, it becomes clear that the total may exceed 2,000 million barrels.
Israel’s per annum consumption amounts to about 70 million barrels.
The 1962 evaluation predicted that “the finding and recovery of this oil and gas may require many decades” -and evidently assumed that such efforts would be made. Unfortunately, this has not been the case.
It is most likely that this failing is one of the main reasons why the forecast potential has not yet been discovered.
2,000 million barrels? That’s 2 billion barrels. That’s Exxon and Shell saying it. So the question isn’t “does Israel have any oil?” The question is, “If the big boys have known about this for so long, why haven’t they done anything about it?” The answer, unfortunately, is pretty easy. They’ve got larger, established assets in the Arab world and the Arab world has told them, “If you do business with Israel, don’t bother doing business here.” That’s what the 1973 oil embargo was all about.
What’s Israel’s answer? Keep supporting those who are exploring for the oil they know is there. What can we do about it? Stop wondering if Israel really has any oil. It does. If you want to see it come to the surface, support the exploration already in country. This piece of history will come about, and it won’t be long until it does. Those involved in that effort are destined to be written in to the story of Israel’s future.
Seems like we can’t get enough Dead Sea oil discovery news lately. Just today The Jordan Times ran an article apparently confirming the existence of a Dead Sea oil discovery on their side of the salt lake.
According to The Jordan Times:
After years of disappointment, many came to accept that the Kingdom is home to little or no oil reserves.
But with recent claims of the possibility of Jordanian oil, and a parliamentary committee examining the issue, the subject has been elevated to a national discourse steeped in controversy and unanswered questions.
The issue dates back to 1996, when the Natural Resources Authority (NRA) signed a Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) with US company Trans-Global to explore for oil in the Dead Sea area….
Over the next few years, the firm dug four wells at Isaal and Wadi Mujib, some thousands of metres deep, in hope that the rift valley would yield any positive results.
According to the company, logging data and technical studies of the wells revealed huge oil traps of hydrocarbons with significant commercial potential and large oil pays, the solid technical indicators of a major oil discovery.
On August 15, 2005, as per the PSA, the company said it officially informed the NRA of its discovery, but the authority declined to review the studies, according to Trans-Global, which felt there was little interest on the part of the NRA administration to follow through.
“This is the exact opposite of how any petroleum ministry in the world would respond to the discovery of oil,” Trans-Global General Manager Nazeeh Abraham told The Jordan Times.
“We claimed a significant oil discovery, and instead of developing it they denied it. We then faced obstructions every step on the way, preventing us from starting a large accelerated drilling development programme,” he added.
Frustrated with the lack of interest from the authority, Trans-Global announced the discovery during the 9th International Geological Conference of the Jordanian Geologists Association in Amman in April last year.
The announcement created an uproar and came as a shock to the NRA.
“They went public without ever informing us, which is a breach of the PSA. We were only told of a technical discovery, which doesn’t mean much in the oil business,” NRA Director Maher Hijazin told The Jordan Times.
“We have all the documents to prove that there is no discovery,” he stressed.
Although the announcement was shocking to many, it came as no surprise to Jordanian Geologists Association (JGA) President Khaled Shawabkeh.
He claimed that the NRA drilled at least five wells in the area in the 1990s, and found oil in different quantities, although their commercial viability was not verified.
Lack of support and technical difficulties brought on by the area’s topography prevented the authority from any further exploration, and the subject was shelved, he said.
“In my view, Trans-Global has made an oil discovery. The quantity and commercial quality of this discovery should now be explored,” the JGA president stressed.
Weatherford, Reeves Logging Ltd., one of 14 third-party companies that performed assessment studies for Trans-Global on the Isaal and Wadi Mujib wells, said it could not confirm or deny the existence of oil in the area, as their only purpose was to log data, not analyse it.
Another industry source, however, told The Jordan Times that the independent third-party studies pointed to “a strong possibility” of commercially viable oil in the Dead Sea area.
Aug. 26, 2008
Ehud Zion Waldoks , THE JERUSALEM POST
The search for oil in Israel got a big push forward on Tuesday night after The Nature and Parks Authority general assembly approved plans for the drilling of an exploratory hole to search for oil in the Judean nature reserve. Two Israeli companies, Ginko Oil Exploration and Delek Energy Systems, believe there could be as much as 6.5 million barrels below the reserve.
The assembly approved Zuk Tamrur 4 on the condition that the Authority comes up with strict guidelines to reduce the environmental damage as much as possible. The assembly also demanded that the companies rehabilitate the area afterwards. In addition, if oil were to be found, the assembly ruled, the pumps to remove it would have to be placed outside the reserve.
Until now, the Authority’s administration had rejected all attempts at drilling, but they were overruled Tuesday by the general assembly, which comprises representatives of environmental organizations and the government.
Avraham Poraz, former internal affairs minister and now consultant to the oil companies, told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday night how he explained the issue to the assembly a month ago in the run-up to the decision.
“I put it to them very simply. One third of Israel is nature reserves. It cannot be that we can’t search for oil in one third of the country.
“Moreover, I told them that according to our ecological estimations, the damage would be minimal because we are talking about 1.25 acres without fences, or dogs or anything like that,” he told the Post.
The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) decried the decision.
“We are distressed that the assembly gave in to the pressures of the initiators, did not heed its own science committee’s recommendation against the plan and so will cause unnecessary damage to the reserve,” the organization said in a statement.
The Authority had suggested drilling a hole diagonally from outside the reserve to search for oil, but a geological consultant said that would create too many problems, an Authority spokesman said.
Ginko director Rami Karmin told the Post earlier this week that Zuk Tamrur 4 represented Israel’s best bet to find oil. He said they only needed 1.25 acres for two months to drill a hole 2,000 meters deep and see if they struck oil. 6.5 million barrels would be worth about $800 million, he added.
The area where the companies want to sink their hole represents a bridge for animal populations between the Judean and Negev reserves, the Authority’s science committee had written, and putting in a hole would block that narrow passageway. It had also said that any sort of drilling was bound to cause severe environmental damage and therefore recommended rejecting the request.