According to Zion CEO Richard Rinberg’s ‘Zion Oil & Gas Newsletter’, Zion Oil began drilling the Elijah #3 well last week and by last Friday’s report, drilling depth on the Elijah #3 had reached 400 feet.
The Elijah #3 well site is located on northern Israel’s coastal plain near Mount Carmel, between Caesarea and Haifa, in Zion’s ‘Asher/Menashe” license area. Zion Oil’s Elijah #3 isn’t the first oil well to be drilled in this area and Zion Oil isn’t the first company to come to this region, known in the Bible as the ‘foot of Asher’, seeking the fulfillment of an ancient Bible prophecy. “And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil.‘” (Deuteronomy 33:24)
In 1961, Bible believing Californian, Wesley Hancock was awarded an exploration license area of 97,000 acres including Mount Carmel and extended into parts of the Jezreel Valley, known as the “Valley of Megiddo,” site of the prophesied last days battle of Armageddon. Armed with a report forecasting Israel’s oil potential, and his Asher passage in Deuteronomy 33, Wesley went looking for Asher’s oil. On September 19, 1963 Wesley spudded the Asher #1, north and east of Mount Carmel near Haifa. Asher #1 had reached a depth of 7,800 feet when the drill head twisted off, taking seven drill collars with it. After the twist-off, chances of drilling any deeper were nil. By January of 1964, testing in the hole above 7,800 feet revealed that the Asher #1 was dry. In 1965 Wesley commissioned a hydrocarbon survey of his license area. This was the first petroleum survey of its kind in Northern Israel. The survey results led to choosing his location for the Asher #2 well. Hancock drilled the Asher #2 to a depth of 4,300 feet and core samples showed traces of oil. The Asher #2, however, was shut down; Hancock, without any other investors, had run out of money and was unable to continue drilling.
In 1979 Gilman Hill, an American evangelical Christian, came to Israel looking for Asher’s oil. According to Hill, God directed him to drill for oil and showed him the well’s location during a 1978 tour of Mount Carmel. Gill had completed preliminary geological surveys and fulfilled permit requirements to begin drilling by 1980.
Hill’s well, Elijah #1, was planned to be drilled to the upper Triassic strata, a depth of 15,000 to 16,000 feet. At 8,900 feet Gilman halted the drilling. According to Hill, God gave him the message, “circumstances have changed,” Gil was convinced that he was to cease drilling until further notice from God. Gil continued his geologic research for another six years waiting for a Divine release to resume drilling. The release never came. After spending $6 million of his own money on Mount Carmel, drawn by the Bible’s promise that Asher would “dip his foot in oil,” Gilman Hill had failed to find the elusive flow.
About the same time Hill started drilling Elijah #1, a Texas oil man named Andy SoRelle was busy preparing to drill the Atlit #1 well near Haifa, known as the Asher Project. SoRelle’s well was spudded in February 1981, the same year Jim Spillman’s book, The Great Treasure Hunt, was released. Spillman and SoRelle were mutual supporters, each understandably interested in the work of the other. Throughout the Asher Project SoRell updated Spillman on the progress of the well they both believed would strike the oil God had promised.
At 9,400 feet the drill bit hit volcanic rock. They drilled down through another 7600 feet before finally coming into limestone again. The drill bit, now at 17,296 feet was way beyond the rig’s capacity. Fearing he would lose the hole, Atlit’s drilling supervisor shut down the operation until a larger rig could be brought in.
December 28, 1982 a new drill rig, rated at 26,000 feet was installed over the original hole. This new phase, dubbed the Atlit #II was planned to bring the well as deep as 23,000 feet. By February of 1983 the well had been cleaned out and depth had been increased to 18,000 feet.
Drilling continued without incident until, at 20,570 feet Atlit II struck oil! What oil experts call “very good shows” came to the surface; graded as light oil at 35 to 40 degrees API. SoRelle continued to a final depth of 21,431 feet. The zone of oil bearing rock, was estimated at 470 feet, from 20,570 to 21,309 feet. Two years after spudding, the drilling phase of the Atlit well was finally complete!
During development problems emerged again. Financing for the project had been on a shoe-string at best. The crew had stopped casing the well at 13,772 feet. Not having funds for additional casing and reasoning that the volcanic rock they had struggled through was stable enough to hold the hole open the crew had continued drilling in “open hole.”
As the crew was cleaning the hole in preparation for the production casing, drill collars stuck at 18,669 ft and two weeks of jarring would not break them loose. Special equipment was flown to retrieve the string (130 ft. in length) and, while cleaning the hole to “fish” with the new equipment they stuck again at the 17,772 ft mark. After ten more days of trying to break loose, they came out leaving another 8 ½ foot fish in the hole.
August 24, 1983, more than two and a half years after spudding, Andy SoRelle called it quits for the Atlit hole. Having spent more than $25 million, his own money and that of his investors, Andy gave up on the Atlit well.
The history of the search for Asher’s oil doesn’t seem very promising. But if God said of Asher, ‘… let him dip his foot in oil …’ then I’m convinced He’ll keep His promise in His own time. One thing I do know; the oil is down there. Hancock saw it and SoRelle saw it. That Asher’s oil exists is a fact, when it will be brought to the surface is the only question.