BEIRUT, Lebanon, Jan. 6 (UPI) — Lebanon has raised the stakes in the high-octane poker game under way in the natural gas-rich eastern Mediterranean by approving a law to administer offshore exploration and drilling, joining Israel, Cyprus and Turkey in a potentially explosive race for energy riches.
The Beirut government laid down the regulations for the emerging energy industry Wednesday.
“If all goes as scheduled,” said Cesar Abi Khalil, an Energy Ministry adviser, “the licensing round will be held this year.
“The companies will have six months to bid and then the winners will be chosen and exploration will begin.”
Energy expert Roudi Baroudi estimates that Lebanon’s reserves total three times those of Libya’s 54 trillion cubic feet. That’s probably a major overestimate. But it’s certain to heighten tension in the region triggered by Israel’s discovery of major gas fields off its coast, a drive by nearby Cyprus to follow suit and Turkey’s threat to send in its navy to stop the other two from joining forces to exploit the region’s energy riches.
On top of this, Beirut claims parts of the Israeli gas fields lie in Lebanese waters. The two countries are technically at war.
Hezbollah, the heavily armed, Iranian-backed Lebanese “resistance movement,” has warned it will repel Israeli efforts to “plunder” what it considers Lebanese energy reserves. Israel has vowed to use force to protect its assets.
Hezbollah and Israel fought a 34-day war in 2006 in which Lebanon’s infrastructure was heavily bombed. The seasoned Lebanese fighters battled Israel’s vaunted military to a standstill and claimed a “divine victory.”
Both sides view the inconclusive conflict as unfinished business.
It remains to be seen whether the dispute over the vast natural gas reserves, along with several billion barrels of oil, in the Levant Basin will be the trigger for renewed war.
But the bottom line is the infrastructure Israel is building, including offshore platforms and export terminals, is vulnerable to attack by Hezbollah, and even Syria and Iran.
If Beirut’s drive to get in on the regional energy boom does actually get under way, and that’s a big “if” since the threat of conflict could scare off potential investors, Lebanon will find itself in the same boat.
In theory, that could create a version of the Cold War concept of mutually assured destruction between the United States and the Soviet Union that prevented an atomic Armageddon from 1949-99.
It could, optimists argue, push the adversaries toward some sort of peace agreement.
But after more than 60 years of incessant warfare no one’s holding their breath.
Israel hit pay dirt in 2009-10, when Houston company Nobel Energy and its Israeli partner, Delek Drilling, found gas reserves totaling some 25 tcf — and that figure could increase as the full extent of the finds becomes known.
The main fields are Leviathan, with some 16 tcf of gas and believed to extend northward into Cypriot waters already dubbed the Aphrodite field, and Tamar with 8 tcf.
The prize is immense. The U.S. Geological Survey reported in 2010 that the Levant Basin, contains as much as 123 billion tcf of recoverable gas, the equivalent of 20 billion barrels of oil.
Moving into Cypriot waters takes the thorny issue into the embrace of yet another conflict, the age-old friction between Greece and Turkey and the frontline of that dispute, the divided island of Cyprus which has no energy resources of its own.
Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 following a short-lived, Athens-engineered coup by supporters of union with Greece. The Turks seized the north and declared the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. It’s recognized only by Ankara. The Greek Cypriot administration in the south is universally recognized.
The Turks, led by the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, claims Nicosia has no right to explore for gas because the Cyprus issue has not been settled.
Add to this that Israel and Turkey, once strong allies, fell out in 2010 and are now bitter rivals, and the animosity just gets worse.
The Greek Cypriots are increasingly aligned with Israel under a plan to jointly export their gas by pipeline to the energy-hungry European Union via Greece, thus sharpening tensions with Turkey.
Nobel Energy, which spearheads exploration off Cyprus as well, has already reported initial indications of at least 7 tcf of gas in Aphrodite.
That’s sure to stir things up.
Modiin Energy LP (TASE:MDIN.L), controlled by Tzahi Sultan and Nochi Dankner through IDB Development Corp. Ltd., today [Sunday] announced that Netherland, Sewell & Associates Inc. (NSAI) estimates that the offshore Yam Hadera license has a best estimate of gross recoverable reserves of 133 million barrels of oil and 1.4 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of natural gas, with a geologic probability of success of 25-29%. For the sake of comparison, the Tamar reservoir has an estimated 9 TCF of gas and Leviathan has an estimated 16 TCF.
Modiin fully owns the Yam Hadera license, which comprises of three formations – Barnea, Shderot, and Zohar – in two sections, the northern and southern closures. The license is located 30 kilometers offshore between Hadera and Haifa. The license is valid through February 14, 2013. The survey covered a 485-square kilometer area and cost $4.4 million.
The low-end estimate is 49.7 million barrels of oil and the high-end estimate is 343.5 million barrels. The oil and gas are found in Cretaceous strata.
“We do not usually hold press conferences, but this time we decided to make an exception since the results from Yam Hadera are very significant,” IDB CEO Haim Gavrieli said this morning.
Sultan said, “We are currently one of the most liquid partnerships in the market. We are considering partnerships with local and foreign entities or remaining 100% private. I must say that we have had many offers for partnerships, some of which were quite surprising.”
On Wednesday, Modiin will provide the Ministry of Infrastructure with a drilling proposal, and will sign an agreement with the drilling rig by February 1. Drilling is slated to begin by June 1. The company estimates the cost of drilling at NIS 70-100 million.
Modiin Energy’s share price rose 1.6% in early trading today to NIS 0.38, giving a market cap of NIS 720 million.
Modiin Energy’s share price rose 1.6% in early trading today to NIS 0.38, giving a market cap of NIS 720 million.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news – www.globes-online.com – on December 4, 2011
US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro recently visited the Solitaire vessel which is laying the pipeline for the Tamar gas field in the east basin of the Mediterranean. The “Solitaire” is the largest pipe-laying ship in the world at 300 meters long and 96,000 tons. When fully operational she has a crew of 420, a pipe carrying capacity of 22,000 tons and a pipe lay speed of more than 9 km a day. This gas pipeline will travel to a pumping station on the coast of Northern Israel where it will be joined to Israel’s gas pipeline infrastructure supplying, among other needs, the nation’s electrical generating stations.
The new government in Athens could open a pipeline to export natural gas from countries including Israel to destinations in northern Europe, as Greece seeks to become a regional center for the transit of this energy source.
“We are trying to make Greece the hub for gas transit to northern European countries either via Italy or through the Balkans,” Greece’s environment, energy and climate change minister stressed to The Jerusalem Post in an exclusive interview on Monday morning in Jerusalem.
The minister, Giorgos Papakonstantinou, was the first Greek official to visit Israel since the country’s November 11 formation of a new coalition unity government headed by interim Prime Minister Lucas Papademos.
On November, 11, 2011 (11/11/11) a flash mob of 200 dancers suprised tourists and locals alike a spectacular show of Israeli Dance. The dance was choreographed Adi Gordon Rawlings, wife of David Rawlings, True Potential Media’s Jerusalem Media Manager.
The site was Jerusalem’s impressive Alrov Mamilla Avenue Shopping District. It’s events like this that bring surprise and joy to every lover of Israel and proof to the world that good things grow in Israeli Jerusalem.
Dallas, Texas and Caesarea, Israel – October 18, 2011 – Zion Oil & Gas, Inc. (NASDAQ GM: ZN) announced today that Mr. Victor G. Carrillo has been appointed as President and Chief Operating Officer of the Company, replacing Mr. William L. Ottaviani who, by mutual agreement with the Company, left to pursue other opportunities on October 14, 2011. Mr. Ottaviani resigned from the Company’s Board of Directors, as provided for in his employment agreement with the Company.
Mr. Carrillo, age 46, has been serving as the Company’s Executive Vice President since January 2011 and as a director since September 2010. Mr. Carrillo will continue to serve on the Company’s Board of Directors.
Mr. Carrillo is a petroleum geologist and geophysicist, attorney, former city councilman, former county judge and former statewide elected official in Texas. For almost eight years, ending in January 2011, Mr. Carrillo served as a commissioner of the Railroad Commission of Texas (the State of Texas Board with regulatory jurisdiction over oil and gas exploration and production) having served as chairman of the three-member statewide elected board twice. Mr. Carrillo holds a law degree from the University of Houston Law Center, a Master of Science degree in geology from Baylor University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in geology from Hardin-Simmons University. Mr. Carrillo also received an honorary doctorate degree from Hardin-Simmons University in May 2006. Mr. Carrillo’s background in petroleum geology and geophysics and regulatory experience as Chairman of the Railroad Commission of Texas furnishes to our board access to a greater understanding of both petroleum science and regulatory issues. Mr. Carrillo currently also serves as a director of Magnum Hunter Resources Corporation; an oil and gas company engaged in the acquisition, development and production of unconventional oil and gas resource plays in the United States and Canada. He also serves on the advisory board of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.
Zion’s Chief Executive Officer, Richard Rinberg, said today that, “I want to thank Bill Ottaviani for his contribution to Zion and wish him well in his future endeavours.
I am very pleased to announce Mr. Carrillo’s appointment as our President and Chief Operating Officer. Victor Carrillo has a wealth of experience in the petroleum industry and is an experienced petroleum industry professional. His skills as a petroleum geologist and geophysicist will serve our Company well as we strive to identify drilling prospect opportunities in our license areas, confirm our next drilling locations and implement our multi-well strategy, as we continue our pursuit to recover hydrocarbons in Israel.”
In his October 7 Newsletter, Zion Oil & Gas CEO Richard Rinberg wrote. “Our schedules may change, but today, we believe that it is most likely that Zion’s next well will be drilled in our Jordan Valley License in 2012.”
Earlier this month Zion signed a seismic acquisition agreement with the Geophysical Institute of Israel (GII) to conduct a 2D field seismic survey in its Jordan Valley License area that is scheduled to commence in late 2011 or early in 2012.
Israel has plans to enlarge its navy as the potential of a Mediterranean war with Lebanon looms over oil. According to an October 18 UPI report, Israel is considering adding Israeli built warships to protect the Leviathan and Tamar offshore oil and gas fields. Israel’s navy is already scheduled to receive three new German made Dolphin class submarines.
According to the UPI report, “Neighboring Lebanon, which is technically at war with Israel, claims that Leviathan, the largest field yet found, runs into its territorial waters. Israel rejects that claim. The Iranian-backed Hezbollah has threatened military action to prevent Lebanese energy reserved being ‘looted.’”
In the south, Israel also must protect its current offshore gas platforms near Gaza from potential Hamas attack.
Both Hezbollah and Hamas are reported to have acquired anti-ship missiles from Iran that could be used against Israel’s offshore drilling platforms. Additionally, terrorist groups could simply sail explosive laden boats up to the platforms and detonate their cargo.
Lebanon’s news agency, The Daily Star, reported today that, “Lebanon is gearing up for a long-term oil and gas production program although the looming diplomatic crisis with Israel over each country’s share of undersea fossil fuels threatens full-scale conflict …”
Lebanon, still technically at war with Israel, disputes the current Israeli Lebanese maritime border and claims that thousands of square kilometers of Israel’s Tamar and Leviathan gas fields are within Lebanon’s maritime ‘Exclusive Economic Zone.’ The terrorist organization Hezbollah, now an official member of Lebanon’s government and backed by Syria and Iran has vowed that it will not let Israel take possession of the offshore oil and gas fields. Hezollah leader, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah , stated earlier this year, “Those who put a hand on the Lebanese territories that have oil assets will have their territories harmed in return.”
I received a comment from a reader (Bill) yesterday; he was worried, as a lot of folks are, about the recent fall Zion’s stock price. Here’s the comment:
“The price today at $1.50. What’s the process at this end. Does the company fall off the board if it hits below a dollar say? Is there limits? Is there continued values to these stocks if the price falls to say .50 cents or less than a dollar, or less than a quarter? I’m not a stock guy, so if you have this type of information, please post it. Thanks!”
I’m not a genie or a guru and, like Bill, I’m “not a stock guy.” I do have my own opinion of the situation, but before I share it, let me tell you a story.
Not quite 2,000 years ago there was a guy – his parents named him ‘Saul’, but he went by ‘Paul’. After a dramatic meet up with G-d on the road to Damascus, Saul/Paul literally ‘saw the light’ and became the world’s most famous Jewish missionary. This did not please the Jews at the time, at least those who held the community’s political and religious power. They were always accusing him of ‘crimes against G-d and against Rome’ (whatever that meant) and as a result, Paul spent a lot of time in court or in jail. Things began to get dicey; there were death threats and plots, and there was a pretty good chance that if Paul let the locals have their way he would meet an ‘accidental’ death on the way to court. Paul played his trump card – even though he was a Jew, he was also a Roman citizen, and as such he had a right to be tried for his ‘crimes’ in Rome, far away from the locals who had promised that Paul would be dead before he made his court date.
The Roman authorities put Paul on a boat to Rome (really it was just a connector boat, but it did get him to the real boat to Rome). While he was sailing on the real boat to Rome a storm came up – a big storm. The crew did all they could but everyone on the ship knew this storm would be the end of them. Everyone but Paul. In the night an angel visited Paul and said (paraphrased), “Look, you’ve got to tell Caesar your story, you’re definitely going to Rome. Don’t worry about your life or the lives of those on the boat, not one person will be injured or die from this storm … but, the ship will run aground on some island.” Paul would fulfill his mission of standing before Caesar; the storm wasn’t a catastrophe, just a detour.
Nice story, but what does it have to do with Zion Oil?
Zion Oil isn’t the only stock in the cellar right now, have you looked at the Dow averages? We won’t even talk about European economies. It ain’t pretty. How about Israel and all this talk at the UN about Palestinian Statehood? That can’t be good. And there sure is a lot of sabre rattling by Israel’s neighbors to the north about offshore drilling. Things are tense, they don’t look good, there’s a storm a-brewing!
The sailors on Paul’s boat threw everything overboard and tried to escape in the lifeboat. Good thing they didn’t, they would have been killed.
When you’re in the middle of a storm the natural thing to do is panic, toss stuff overboard and go for the lifeboats. That’s the natural thing … sometimes the natural thing is the wrong thing. It’s tough to keep the goal in mind when waves are coming into the boat, but storms come, and then they go, and the goal remains.
John Brown was given a vision and a mission thirty years ago; before there ever was a Zion Oil & Gas, before there were any stock prices to worry about, before anyone knew there actually was oil and gas in Israel. In thirty years there’s been a lot of foul weather and a lot of fair weather, but the goal hasn’t changed. I don’t know if Paul’s angel ever visited John Brown in the night, but I do know that there’s oil and gas in Israel and that Zion is committed to finding their share of it. It’s not easy to ignore the storm and keep your focus on the goal. The easy thing to do is cut and run for the lifeboats … it’s just not the right thing to do.
So Bill, I’m not a ‘stock guy’. I’m just a guy on the boat; I know that storms don’t last forever and, eventually, we’ll get to where we’re going. Until then, I’ll look for daylight.
JERUSALEM — Israel has deployed drones to keep watch on gas fields off its northern coast, fearing attack by the Hezbollah militia from neighbouring Lebanon, the Jerusalem Post daily reported on Tuesday.
The fields lie in a part of the Mediterranean that is claimed by Israel for gas exploration and production, but Lebanon says the fields lie within its territorial waters.
“The decision to deploy drones was made in order to maintain a 24-hour presence over the site,” the paper said, adding that the air force was equipped with the locally made Heron drone, which has special electro-optics designed for maritime work.
The Israeli military would not confirm or deny the Post report to AFP.
The paper said that the air force started aerial surveillance after a warning last month from Hezbollah, which in 2006 fought a deadly war with the Jewish state in which it used anti-ship missiles.
“The Israeli enemy cannot drill a single metre in these waters to search for gas and oil if the zone is disputed… No company can carry out prospecting work in waters whose sovereignty is contested,” the Shiite group said.
The Hezbollah threat came after Israel’s cabinet approved a map of the country’s proposed maritime borders with Lebanon and submitted it to the United Nations, which has been asked to mediate in the dispute.
The map conflicts with one submitted by Lebanon to the UN last year, which gives Israel less territory.
The two countries are technically at war and will not negotiate face to face.
The disputed zone consists of about 854 square kilometres (330 square miles).
The two biggest known offshore fields, Tamar and Leviathan, lie respectively about 80 kilometres (50 miles) and 130 kilometres (81 miles) off Israel’s northern city of Haifa.
Tamar is believed to hold at least 8.4 trillion cubic feet of gas (238 billion cubic metres), while Leviathan is believed to have reserves of 16 trillion cubic feet (450 billion cubic metres).
In June an Israeli company announced the discovery of two new natural gas fields, Sarah and Mira, around 70 kilometres (45 miles) off the city of Hadera further south.