In case anyone missed it last summer, oil has been discovered in Northern Israel. We’re not waiting for an oil discovery – it’s already happened! The oil has been/is being produced and sold. What’s more, the exploration company, Givot Olam, based its search for oil in Israel on Scripture. That’s right, oil has been discovered in Israel, based on Bible passages predicting the discovery and its location. The same Bible (Torah) passages used by my father, Jim Spillman, back in 1981 in his book, The Great Treasure Hunt. The same passages Zion Oil & Gas Founder John Brown heard Dad teach on a Zion Temple in Michigan thirty years ago and took to heart. Included Jacob’s Blessing, recorded in Genesis 49 and Deuteronomy 33, is the prophecy of a last days oil discovery. Jacob’s descendants will be blessed from the “deep that coucheth beneath”; “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.” Issachar and Zebulun “shall suck of the abundance of the seas and of treasures hid in the sand.” Asher will “dip his foot in oil.”
The prophecy of oil in Israel isn’t going to be fulfilled someday – it is being fulfilled as we watch!
A January 13 Globes Article follows progress at Givot Olam’s Meged 5 well site; I’ll share a few excerpts here:
“Givot Olam Oil Exploration LP (TASE:GIVO.L), which is currently fracing (hydraulic fracturing) sections of its Meged 5 well and carrying out production tests, is seeking to cool investors’ enthusiasm after yesterday’s flare at the wellhead, which indicates the presence of fuel at the well. The scale of production, if any, is unknown, but the flare is a routine procedure during production tests.”
“A few months ago, Givot announced that production tests conducted during the summer produced an average of 382 barrels of oil a day. Fracing is now underway in sections 1-6 of the borehole to speed up the production rate, and production tests are underway of sections 7-8.”
“Givot sold 6,000 barrels of oil produced during last summer’s production tests to Oil Refineries Ltd. (TASE:ORL) at the below market price of $60 per barrel. It cannot be ruled out that oil currently being produced is also being sold to Oil Refineries, and is why there are oil tankers at the wellhead. However, how much oil is being sold is not known.”
“A capital market source close to the matter told “Globes”, “When you peel away all the conduct of the past year, Meged 5 ultimately has something real.”
Givot’s Meged 5 is just the beginning of onshore oil discoveries in Israel. I believe Givot will drill more and produce much more in their Meged oil field.
Zion Oil & Gas, just to the north of Givot Olam, controls 327,000 acres of exploration territory and is in the final stages of drilling their fourth well, the Ma’anit-Joseph #3. In just weeks, Zion will be at its final depth of 19,000 feet.
With Israel’s recent gas discovery, the country is now staged to be natural gas independent (natural gas now powers some of Israel’s power plants and by the end of the decade, most likely, all electrical generation will come from natural gas fired plants). Noble Energy, one of the exploration partners on the gas discovery says they believe substantial oil reserves are under the gas fields.
Israel now has enough natural gas to supply its needs into the foreseeable future and for export. With the ongoing operations of Givot Olam, Zion Oil & Gas, Noble Energy can oil independence for Israel be far behind? I don’t think so.
What do you think?
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.
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 (http://www.givot.co.il/english/index.php) 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: http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/business/givot-olam-meged-has-1-5b-barrels-of-oil-1.308683
May 31, 2010
Givot Olam Oil Exploration LP (TASE:GIVO.L) announced plans to frac (pumping special fluids into the well bore to create enough pressure to crack or fracture a target formation within the well) section 1 of the Meged 5 well near Rosh Ha’Ayin, Israel, in order to stimulate oil production. Company officials stated that the necessary equipment and team were already in Israel, and that it had begun the preliminary activity for the procedure.
On May 27 Givot announced that the production test in Section 1 of its Meged 5 well yielded 33 barrels of liquid over eight hours, without the aid of accelerants.
The previous week Givot released a detailed report for the production tests, including the timetable. The tests will be conducted in eight sections of the well over 60-80 days. Givot has promised to issue a detailed report on the number of barrels of oil flowing at each section and the length of time of the flow, but cautioned that no conclusion could be drawn from these figures and implored investors to wait for the conclusion of the tests.
Givot said, “The partnership wishes to reiterate that data of these kinds do not reflect the rate of flow from the well or its viability, which will only be determined after completion of the tests by the experts who will process and analyze the date obtained from each of the tests, which will be disclosed in separate immediate notices.”
Givot has apparently learned the lesson of the Zerah Oil And Gas Explorations LP (TASE: ZRAH) at its Tamrur Cliff 4 well. A gas flare from the well caused investors to rush to buy the share, sending it skyrocketing. The share later crashed on disappointing production tests results. Givot is seeking to avoid a similar experience.
Excerpted (with editing) from: http://www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/docview.asp?did=1000563138&fid=1725 and http://www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/docview.asp?did=1000562385&fid=1725.
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: http://www.oilinisrael.net/resources/biblical-treasure-hunt-free-pdf)
In 2004 Givot Olam announced an oil discovery in their Meged #4 well, the newly discovered ‘Meged oil field’ was estimated to contain 980 million barrels of crude; about 200 million barrels of that actually recoverable. Israel’s Ministry of National Infrastructures looked t the data, confirmed the discovery and issued a production license to the company … that was six years ago. Givot Olam hasn’t actually produced any appreciable amount of the oil they discovered in 2004 and the Meged #4 was shut down due to ‘engineering problems’ after attempting a horizontal drilling process in 2005.
Last year Givot Olam tried to resurrect hopes of producing oil by drilling the Meged #5, south of it’s previous wells. The Meged #5, still under 13,000 feet deep (according to Givot’s drilling agreement with Lapidoth, the original planned depth was over 16,000 feet) and the drilling project is $4.9 million over budget; add to that an additional $6 – 7.5 million for production testing. Givot Olam only has $3.7 million in the bank, so they’ll need to raise more capital before anyone knows if the Meged #5 will be a commercial well.
Givot representatives stated last week (see below) that the “quantities of gas measured in the mud of the Meged 5 well is ten times the amount in all other wells in the Meged field.” But since no actual quantity was disclosed, there’s no way of telling whether the well is capable of producing commercial gas until testing is complete.
An oil ‘discovery’ of 980,000 million barrels in 2004 (the Givot Olam website states 2,000 million [2 billion] barrels) and still no oil?
First of all, I believe Givot Olam discovered oil 13,000 feet below the surface in 2004. Secondly, while the oil is still 13,000 feet down, I don’t believe there’s any ironclad way of determining exactly how much was discovered or, more importantly, how much of the oil in the ground is producible to the surface. And (this is an important part of the oil business) you can only send oil to the refinery that’s that’s actually on the surface.
What’s the moral of this story?
Discovering oil and producing oil are two separate and distinct events. Sometimes they happen back to back … but sometimes they don’t. And how much time and capital an oil company thinks exploration and completion will cost, reality may have a higher figure in mind. In a recent interview, Zion Oil & Gas Exploration Manager Stephen Pierce stated that the odds of finding oil in the exploration process are “one in nine.” That means, on average, nine wells are drilled for every one that produces. But not one of the oil explorers I’ve interviewed or researched in the history of Israel’s hunt for oil expected to drill nine holes before discovering oil. Every well was expected to be the well. That, unfortunately, isn’t the way it is.
Here’s the good news.
Israel possesses a massive amount of natural gas – more than they’ll need into the foreseeable future. Israel’s natural gas was discovered just last year. And Israel possesses oil – that’s been proven by exploration and, I believe, it will be confirmed by discoveries outside the Meged field in the near future. The gap between ‘discovery’ and ‘production’ may be time consuming and expensive (as it has been in Givot Olam’s case), but once fields begin producing they generally continue. Israel will be energy independent; she will produce and consume domestic oil and gas, all Givot Olam and the other oil exploration companies in Israel need to do is stay in business. Givot Olam will raise the capital to finish the Meged #5. Will the well produce oil or gas? I don’t know, but I do know they’re a lot closer to the finish line than when they started.
Below is the February 28 Globes article on Givot Olam:
“The quantities of gas measured in the mud of the Meged 5 well is ten times the amount in all other wells in the Meged field,” Givot Olam Oil Exploration LP (TASE:GIVO.L) announced today in a presentation ahead of Tuesday’s partners meeting. At the meeting, the general partner will try to get the investors’ approval to issue NIS 25 million worth of partnership units and options.
Givot did not disclose the actual quantity of gas measured in the well, or its significance for the quantity of oil at the site, which will only be known when the production tests are completed.
Givot’s general partner added that the drilling cost of the Meged 5 well is $12.6 million, more than the $7.7 million originally planned. The general partner attributed the higher cost to “two serious breakdowns during the drilling and adjustments to the drilling plan”.
The presentation added that the Meged 5 has reached the Upper Mohila strata at a depth of 3,879 meters, and that the well is due to reach a depth of 3,950 meters. The partnership estimates the cost of the production tests at $6 – 7.5 million and they will last for two more months. The partnership has just $3.7 million in cash left, hence the need to raise more capital.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news – www.globes-online.com – on February 28, 2010
Zion Oil CEO Richard Rinberg announced to shareholders today in his weekly drilling update that drilling of the Ma’anit-Rehoboth #2 well has been completed at 17,913 feet; 131 feet short of its intended target depth. From company reports, it still isn’t clear whether or not the bottom of the Ma’anit-Rehoboth #2 is in an upper Permian or lower Triassic stratum.
Rinberg stated that, “There were a number of factors that influenced our decision not to drill deeper.” But the only factor he gave stockholders was the increased risk of loosing the well from a cave-in due to a long section of ‘open hole’ (uncased) at the bottom of the well. Given the fact that the distance between the drill bit and the motor was nearly 3.4 miles, losing the well due to a cave-in or other catastrophic failure is a very real concern. Whatever the other factors influencing the decision to stop drilling were, they weren’t stated by Rinberg – so we’ll have to leave any other reasons to speculation.
Speculation, however, is something Zion’s managers can’t do – at least not publicly. Because the company is publicly held and in the process of another stock offering, SEC regulations prohibit Zion’s management from any form of public ‘speculation’ that could be construed as an attempt to paint a picture of the company’s future prospects in way that might not be a 100% factual projection at the moment. The SEC calls these “Forward Looking Statements”. That means Zion’s management is pretty much limited to telling us what they ‘know’ they’ve got in the Ma’anit-Rehoboth #2 well and not what they ‘think’ they’ve got. Which, at this point, doesn’t make for much news.
So if you’re going to draw conclusions, you can draw some of them from what’s not said :
- The Ma’anit Rehoboth #2 isn’t a gusher (“Gusher” is an old term for a self pressurized free-flowing oil well). If oil was flowing out of the top of the well, it would be a fact, not a “Forward Looking Statement.” Zion shareholders (and the rest of the world) would know about it.
- There’s no definite agreement as to whether or not the bottom of the Ma’anit-Rehoboth #2 is in the Permian.
- The Ma’anit Rehoboth #2 hasn’t suffered any sort of catastrophic failure. As sparing as Zion’s management has been with potential good news, to their credit, they’ve always been forthcoming in reporting any bad news. If any sort of trend can be discerned, as far as Zion is concerned, no news is more likely good news than bad … or simply, no news.
- If you follow the general energy exploration news coming out of Israel as closely as I do (that’s pretty close), then you may have discerned by now that Israel is in the beginnings of an energy ‘gold -rush’. The HUGE natural gas discovery off the Haifa coast has insured Israel’s energy (gas and electric) needs in the foreseeable future. Givot Olam has reported, and the state of Israel has accepted, that they have nearly a billion barrels of oil under the ground just south of Zion’s license area; they just haven’t been able to get it to the surface yet (by the way – they’re drilling as I write). Oil discoveries in the Dead Sea region (not huge, but there) are being reported and same companies involved in the off shore discovery are now buying into the Dead Sea exploration. Translation: Oil and gas discoveries in Israel aren’t a future possibility, they’re a present reality.
Now let’s draw some conclusions from what has been said:
- The Ma’anit-Rehoboth #2 well is at 17,913 feet (2071 feet deeper than the Ma’anit #1).
- Their are “seven zones that warrant completion testing” (I can’t locate documentation, but I believe there were three to five “zones that warranted testing” in the Ma’anit #1).
- What’s been concluded is the “drilling phase”. The determination as to whether or not the well will produce commercial hydrocarbons comes in the “completion phase.”
- The rig will soon be moved to the next drilling site, at the ‘foot of Asher.’ Zion Oil & Gas is a professional oil exploration company with multiple leases and multiple drilling prospects in the nation of Israel. Zion Oil is not a ‘one hole wildcatter.’ There is absolutely no reason to give up on the Ma’anit-Rehoboth #2 at this point, the well hasn’t even been tested yet. But regardless of how much or how little oil and/or gas the Ma’anit-Rehoboth #2 produces, Zion will continue drilling for oil and gas in northern Israel.
Now let’s look at the big picture:
- Zion Oil owns most of the exploration license area in northern Israel – 327,000 acres.
- The Ma’anit-Rehoboth #2 is among the deepest wells ever drilled, in one of the most promising locations, drilled with the best equipment, manned by the most adept crew, tested with the most sophisticated equipment that onshore Israel has ever seen. That’s not hyperbole, it’s fact.
- Geology and recent experience have proven – natural gas and oil lie beneath the land (and offshore) of Israel.
- If you want big picture, here’s the biggest – Zion Oil, Noble Energy, Delek, Givot Olam and the rest didn’t promise Israel’s children “The blessings of the deep that lies beneath.” Israel’s God did (Genesis 49:25). From where I sit, it looks like He’s keeping His promise. We’ll find out more about the Ma’anit-Rehoboth specifically as Zion begins their “completion phase”.
- Just as a reminder, I’ve dug up a photo taken at the Ma’anit #1 in 2005. That’s a hydrocarbon flare from the well – it’s down there.
Keep the faith.
Just south of Zion Oil’s Joseph license in Northern Israel lies the 60,000 acre Rosh Ha’ayin production lease belonging to Israeli oil company Givot Olam. A production lease, according to Israeli petroleum law, can only be issued after the exploration company has proven existing oil and/or gas reserves in place. In 2004 Givot Olam, through their three exploration wells, the Megeds 2, 3 and 4, proved to the Israeli government that there was oil under their exploration license … to the tune of nearly a billion barrels.
Despite attempts to develop the exploration wells, Givot Olam has yet to get commercial quantities of their oil discovery to the surface. The company began drilling the Meged #5 well last month, hoping to change their luck, take advantage of what they’ve leaned in the last five years and produce a sellable amount of oil.
Here’s something interesting; Givot Olam’s founder, Tovia Luskin, a trained petroleum geologist, began his quest for oil in Israel when he read about the prediction of vast petroleum reserves waiting to be discovered in the Holy Land. Would you like to know where Mr. Luskin first read about this possible discovery? The Bible … more accurately, the Torah.
Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Let’s put aside for a moment the fact that oil was discovered in Israel in 2004, by a company that based their search on scripture. Let’s put aside for a moment what the first fact does to the credibility of every critic and self-rising opinionater that has, over the last five years, trashed the idea that oil could ever be discovered in Israel based on scripture for the sole reason that it was based on scripture. Let’s put aside for a moment the fact that we’re not waiting for someone to discover oil in Israel – it’s already been done; we’re just waiting for someone to bring it up and put it in barrels. Let’s put all that aside and take a quick look at the man who first discovered the oil prophesied by Jacob to his sons nearly 4,000 years ago.
In a story that seems to be dominated by Christian oil explorers, it’s a little ironic that the only oilman, using the same scriptures as the Christian explorers, to actually have a proven oil discovery in Israel, is Jewish.
Tovia Luskin, like his evangelical Christian counterparts, has been searching for oil in Israel for a long time now – more than twenty years. Like his Christian counterparts, Tovia used the Bible as his guide for finding oil in the Holy Land. Unlike his Christian counterparts, Tovia has actually discovered the oil promised to the Children of Israel in Genesis and Deuteronomy!
Luskin, a Russian Jew and a geologist, earned degrees in geophysics at Moscow State University. As a former lead geologist for Shell Oil and advisor to Bridge Oil in Sydney, Australia, his extensive background in the oil industry gave him the professional credence to back up his religious conviction that there was indeed, oil in Israel.
Working in Australia in 1988, Tovia, new as a practicing Jew, came upon a passage in the Torah in Deuteronomy.
Tovia is naturally quiet about sharing his religious beliefs concerning the oil with skeptics who would use them to discount his professional and technical efforts on the project. But to those sincerely interested, he happily quotes from memory the passage that began his quest:
About Joseph, he (Moses) said: “May the Lord bless his land with the precious dew from heaven above and the deep waters that lie below; with the best the sun brings forth and the finest the moon can yield; with the choicest gifts of the ancient mountains and the fruitfulness of the everlasting hills…”
(Deut. 33:13 NIV)
This passage in Deuteronomy along with his discovery that the medieval Jewish scholar Rashi interpreted the passage to mean that the “everlasting hills” were much older than the surrounding countryside was proof that he was on to something.
Rashi’s interpretation struck home with Luskin. He knew, as a geologist, that the concept of one geological feature (the hills) being of a different age than the land surrounding it was an accepted fundamental of modern geological science. But this concept was unknown in the time Rashi wrote his interpretation. In Luskin’s view, Rashi had no way of interpreting the passage this way other than by divine guidance.
These two proofs were enough for him to write to Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson, one of the world’s renowned Jewish scholars, for his review and consideration of the interpretations. After reviewing his material, the Rebbe, responded noting, “I had pleasure in reading your discussion …” and “… You will tell me good news ….”
This was enough for Luskin to take action. He traveled to New York for a personal audience with the Rebbe. The Rebbe pronounced over him a Bracha (blessing) regarding his proposed search for oil in the Promised Land, “You have my blessing that you will have good news in the near future.” This innocuous sounding blessing carried tremendous authority for Luskin. He believed the Rebbe to be G_d’s Moshiach (Messiah), the one to bring redemption to the Jews. This was enough for Luskin to sell his home in Sydney, Australia and immigrate to Israel.
By 1993 Tovia Luskin had assembled a team of geologists and oil experts (most of them Russian from his previous acquaintance at Moscow Sate University) to form Givot Olam Oil Exploration, LLC. Givot Olam, Hebrew for “everlasting hills,” secured a 62,500 acre exploration license just north and east of Tel Aviv.
Their first well, the Meged 2, was drilled in 1994 and successfully tested 40° API oil at 17,000 feet. In 1998 the Meged 2 was retested and showed a 400 barrel per day flow rate. The Meged 3 well was drilled two years later a few miles to the west of the Meged 2. This well logged 47 feet of pay (the vertical area of the well from which to extract oil) at 15,000 feet deep, but had to be shut down because of mechanical problems in the hole. The Meged 4, north of the Meged 2 and Meged 3, was drilled in 2003. At 16,000 feet the Meged 4 began flowing oil and gas. The rate of flow was unspecified but Givot Olam reported a commercial discovery of 980 million barrels. With the Meged 4 discovery the Givot Olam eighteen month exploration license became a thirty year production lease.
Today Givot Olam is in the process of developing the Meged Oil Field with plans for 10 wells in a 50 square kilometer project area. With proper development each well is conservatively estimated to produce over 900 barrels per day for the first year, and then decline to a steady 400 barrels per day over each well’s seven year expected lifespan. The ten wells in this field, roughly one-fifth of Givot Olam’s production lease area, in the conservative view is capable of producing over 12 million barrels of oil over the next seven years.
Israel has only produced 20 million barrels in its entire fifty year history of oil production. Personally Luskin estimates the Givot Olam lease area to hold as many as a billion barrels of oil. Twenty percent of those billion barrels, Luskin believes, is recoverable. Two hundred million barrels … not bad for Jewish Russian immigrant using the Torah and his Rebbe’s blessing as a guide!
“The blessings of your father excel the blessings of my ancestors and the bounty of the eternal hills. May they rest on the head of Joseph, on the crown of the prince of his brothers.” (Genesis 49:26)