By Philip Mandelker

(installment two of a series, for installment one click here)

Notwithstanding the desertion of the large international oil and gas companies following the establishment of the State, exploration continued in Israel over the ensuing 50 years, albeit in fits and starts, led by Israeli and a number of smaller American and Canadian companies. Among these companies have been at least seven, which have drilled or participated in the drilling of at least 11 exploratory wells, the founders of which were directly inspired by Biblical references they and many of their supporters interpreted as pointing to the existence of oil and gas reservoirs in particular areas in the Land of Israel. An eighth company, Hoshana Oil, directly inspired by Biblical references, acquired an exploration license, but never drilled a well. – A detailed listing of the companies, their founders and their activities is set out in the Appendix.

Interestingly, with the exception of one company, Ness Energy, founded by Texas oilman Harold “Hayseed” Stephens who, inspired by the stories in Genesis concerning the Cities of the Plain, was drawn to and active in the southwestern corner of the Dead Sea, all of the biblically inspired wildcatters have been drawn to areas in the Sharon Plain and on and around Mt. Carmel, just to its north.

Six of the wells drilled over the years by four companies (Asher Oil, Moriah Exploration, Camberly Exploration, Ness Energy) have been relatively shallow, drilled to targets in rocks of Jurassic age (150 million years old) and into younger rocks of Pliocene and Cretaceous age between 650 and 2,682 meters (2,136 and 8,800 feet) deep. These were all dry holes. Five of the wells drilled by another group of companies (Energy Exploration, Givot Olam Oil Exploration and Zion Oil & Gas) have been drilled to much deeper targets, between 3,500 and 6,531 meters (11,484 and 21,428 feet), into older rocks of Triassic age (200 to 250 million years ago). All these deeper wells – the Atlit #1 (known also as the Asher-Atlit well), the Meged #2, Meged #3, Meged #4 and the Ma’anit #1 (re-entry) – have had strong petroleum shows. Projects responsible for the drilling of four of these wells, the three Meged wells and the Ma’anit #1 well (re-entry) are in early 2006 still active: – the Meged wells drilled by Givot Olam, an Israeli public limited partnership, were recognized in 2004 by the Israeli Petroleum Commissioner as having resulted in a discovery although production has not yet been established; and the Ma’anit #1 (re-entry) well, drilled by Zion Oil & Gas, an American company, is undergoing appraisal and analysis.

What is it in the Bible that inspired the founders of these companies, mostly Christian evangelicals, but also a Jewish Habad Hasid, to spend years of their life and a good part of their personal fortunes on these activities? The founders of the companies that drilled the wells both on and at the foot of Mt. Carmel were generally inspired both by the story of Elijah’s sacrifice described in I Kings 18:30-40, believing that the water poured on Elijah’s offering was oil from oil seeps in the area – and also by the Blessing of Asher in Deuteronomy 33:24. The founders of the three companies who drilled and are drilling the deep wells in the central and northern parts of the Sharon Plain and on the Mediterranean coast north of the Plain of Sharon and west of Mt. Carmel were and continue to be inspired primarily by the Blessings of Joseph and Asher in Genesis 49:22-26 and Deuteronomy 33:13-17 and 24. The founder of Hoshana Oil, who was interested in the area just south and east of Mt. Carmel, was inspired by Blessings of Asher and Zebulon and Issachar in Deuteronomy 33:18-19 and 24.

(for a PDF Download of Philip Mandelker’s entire study go to:

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