News reports out Israel of a 1.5 billion barrel oil discovery lit up websites and news postings yesterday. Israeli oil exploration company Givot Olam announced to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) on Tuesday that, “Production test drilling at Givot Olam’s Meged 5 site near Rosh Ha’ayin indicated it holds 1.525 billion barrels’ worth of oil.” And boy did it start a stir!

Givot Olam stock shot up 69% at one point, before finally settling out at a 19.7% gain … meanwhile trading was suspended and the Israel Securities Authority demanded clarifications of the report from Givot Olam – who didn’t have anything to add.  They said a full report would be available in September.

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, “This is not the first time Givot has issued partial and less than definitive information.” If you visit the Givot Olam website ( today you’ll read about the 2 billion barrels they “discovered” (but never produced) in 2004.  The truth behind this week’s “discovery” is that their tests don’t show how much oil they can produce or how much the discovery may be worth financially. What they do know is that even if there is 1.5 billion barrels down there, only a small percentage of it is recoverable; estimates range from 10% to 25%.

Givot Olam has been pumping oil mixed with gas and water from the Meged 5 test well for about a week and a half, averaging about 380 barrels per day. Israel consumes 235,000 barrels of oil per day. At the rate the Meged 5 is pumping now the well would supply less than two tenths of one percent of Israel’s daily consumption. If just 10% of Givot Olam’s “discovery” was recoverable (150 million barrels), the Meged 5 would have to maintain its current pace for over a thousand years to harvest the field. Israel burns through 150 million barrels in less than two years.

Haaretz reports: A geophysicist in the field, however, called the most recent announcement “speculative” and said the 1.525 billion figure appeared “exaggerated.”

“The bottom line is that I want to see the well’s capacity of barrels per day over time,” he said. “How much the drilling site can produce – that’s what will answer questions regarding its economic viability. Regarding the reserves, I don’t think they can be assessed at the moment. It’s a very rough estimate and everything gets into the range of probabilities.”

That’s what the geophysicists in Israel (the guys who know) are saying. It’s the same thing they told me after Givot Olam announced its 2 billion barrel “discovery” in 2004.

Bottom Line: Givot Olam’s announcement of a 1.5 billion barrel discovery is highly speculative and most likely exaggerated. A “discovery” doesn’t mean how many barrels a company can actually commercially produce (2004’s 2 billion barrel “discovery” commercially produced exactly zilch). We’ll need to wait until Givot Olam submits their definitive report in September and watch production on the Meged 5. Yesterday’s announcement created a lot of hoopla, but nobody, including Givot Olam, knows the substantive reality of the “discovery” at this point.

But that didn’t stop some Israeli news agencies and  Christian websites (Joel Rosenberg’s included) from running the headline “1.5 BILLION BARRELS OF OIL DISCOVERED IN ISRAEL” with few, if any, facts to back up the headline.

So why am I raining on everyone’s parade? Here’s why: the truth. There’s nobody that believes Israel will discover oil in a big way more than I do (except maybe John Brown of Zion Oil and Tovia Luskin of Givot Olam). And I believe the Bible (Torah) points to that discovery (so do John Brown and Tovia Luskin). But sensational headlines taken from unsubstantiated announcements don’t forward the search. When sensational headlines (like the 2 billion barrel “discovery” in 2004) don’ t pass the test of reality, they only disappoint the folks who believed them in the first place and hurt the credibility of those who ran the headline. That  said, here are the facts:

  • The Bible (Torah) states that Jacob (Israel) would “suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock.” (Deut 32:13) Of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) it states: “Blessed of the LORD be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath, And for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon, And for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills, And for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof …. (Deut. 33:13-16).  That Zebulun and Issachar “shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sand.” (Deut 33:19) And that Asher would “dip his foot in oil.” (Duet 33:24)
  • Tovia Luskin and John Brown founded their oil exploration companies based on their belief that scripture points to a major oil discovery in Israel.
  • Zion Oil & Gas and Givot Olam have proven that oil exists deep below the territories the Bible (Torah) said it would be found.   Givot Olam has pumped more than 3,000 barrels of it in the last week and a half.
  • Serious geological studies by the Geophysical Institute in Israel and the US Geological Survey have backed up Luskin’s and Brown’s belief by stating that they estimate a mean of 1.7 billion barrels of oil and 122 trillion cubic feet of natural gas are recoverable in the Levant Basin, which includes onshore and offshore Israel.
  • Enough natural gas to supply all of Israel’s needs into the foreseeable future has already been discovered off the coast of Northern Israel.

The facts are enough. Israel has discovered huge quantities of natural gas, they’ve discovered oil right where the Bible said it would be, and I believe Israel is on the cusp of discovering major quantities of producible oil, both onshore and offshore – enough to supply them into the foreseeable future.  It’s happening now, but it hasn’t happened yet. The prophecy of Israel’s oil, I believe, is being fulfilled before our eyes, but it hasn’t been fulfilled yet. Misleading headlines aside, Givot Olam’s discovery is a part of that fulfillment. I’ll report the facts to you as we see them unfold. In the meantime here’s a more balanced article on the subject from the Israeli newspaper Haaretz:

Steve Spillman

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