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.
The Jerusalem Post reported this week on an assessment from the Swiss based financial services giant UBS, that a significant oil find could have a greater impact to Israel’s economy than the recent massive natural gas discoveries offshore.
UBS analysts, Roni Biron, Ziv Tal and Reinhard Cluse wrote in a report on the Israeli gas and oil sector that: “Our calculations suggest that, in the event of success, oil could potentially deliver a boost to GDP growth, the budget and the external balance that might potentially be even bigger than the impact from natural gas.
“This would also imply a larger appreciation potential for the shekel and an even greater requirement to manage the resulting macroeconomic challenges through a carefully managed sovereign-wealth fund.”
Simply put, UBS analysts are saying that discovering oil could mean more to Israel’s economy, trade balance, domestic budget, value of the shekel and long term national wealth than the recent gargantuan offshore natural gas finds that will make Israel both import independent and a major exporter. Not to mention (they didn’t) that being oil and gas independent would add significantly to Israel’s national security.
The UBS analysts reminded readers that the Leviathan and Tamar fields were the world’s largest gas discoveries in the past decade, that Tamar would be sufficient for all of Israel’s domestic needs, making Leviathan available for 100% export. They reported, “natural- gas exports from the Leviathan field will begin in 2017 at almost $3 billion per year, before rising to almost $6 billion in 2020.”
$6 billion per year from natural gas exports – that’s significant! What’s more significant is that the UBS report was about how a oil could have a greater impact.
Oct 27, 2009
Zerah Oil Gas Exploration fell 2.1%. The oil- and gas-exploration company said the start of drilling at the Zuk Tamrur 4 site, which had been scheduled for October, was postponed because of machine-order delays.
“They shall call the people unto the mountain; there they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness: for they shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sand.”
Noble Energy (see my earlier post: http://www.oilinisrael.net/oil-in-israel-articles/more-detail-about-the-haifa-offshore-gas-exploration) has discovered “three massive gas fields” just off the coast of Haifa. This field is much richer, the natural gas reservoirs much larger than Noble energy expected. This find alone could be enough natural gas to power Israel’s electrical plants and supply it’s commercial and domestic natrual gas needs for the foreseeable future – and still with enough for export to other countries. Yitzhak Tshuva, owner of the Delek Group Ltd, a partner in the Tamar #1 well, called the discovery “one of the biggest in the world,” promising that the find would present a historic land mark in the economic independence of Israel.
The Jerusalem Post and many other news organizations announced the discovery to the people of Israel and to the world this morning. Below are excerpts of the JP article you can read it in its entirety at http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1232265973374.
Jerusalem Post Sunday January 18, 2009
Three massive gas reservoirs have been discovered 80 kilometers off the Haifa coast, at the Tamar prospect, Noble Energy Inc. announced on Sunday.
The Tamar -1 well, located in approximately 5,500 feet of water, was drilled to a total depth of 16,076 feet. The thickness and quality of the reservoirs found were greater than anticipated at the location.
Charles D. Davidson, Noble Energy’s chairman, president and CEO, said in an announcement that his company was “extremely excited by the results. This is one of the most significant prospects that we have ever tested and appears to be the largest discovery in the company’s history.”
Speaking on Army Radio Sunday morning, an exhilarated Yitzhak Tshuva, owner of the Delek Group Ltd, one of the owners of the well, called the discovery “one of the biggest in the world,” promising that the find would present a historic land mark in the economic independence of Israel.
“I have no doubt that this is a holiday for the State of Israel. We will no longer be dependent [on foreign sources] for our gas, and will even export. We are dealing with inconceivably huge quantities; Israel now has a solution for the future generations,” Tshuva added.
An ecstatic Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said before the weekly cabinet meeting that the discovery was a “historic” one and could “change the face of Israeli industry.”
Production testing at Tamar will be performed after the well is completed. Noble Energy and its partners may keep the rig to drill up to two additional wells in the basin. Pending positive test results, one well could be an appraisal at Tamar.
Noble Energy operates the well with a 36 percent working interest. Other interest owners in the well are Israeli companies Isramco Negev 2, Delek Drilling, Avner Oil Exploration and Dor Gas Exploration.
Following the announcement of the discover, shares of Delek Drilling jumped up 80%, while shares of Isramco Negev 2 skyrocketed by an unprecedented 120 percent.
Back in August we reported on oil exploration efforts in the Judean Reserve of southern Israel. It looks like the Ginko/Delek/Avner partnership has past a final hurdle with the state of Israel. Environmental concerns on Reserve land have been the primary issue in delaying exploration approval.
Below is the November 6 Jerusalem Post article. The original article can be viewed at http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull&cid=1225910056665.
Exploratory drilling for oil in Judean Desert passes final hurdle
The Council of National Parks and Nature Reserves on Thursday approved exploratory drilling for oil in the Judean Desert Nature Reserve, where three companies – Ginko Oil Exploration, Delek Energy Systems, and Avner – believe there could be as much as 6.5 million barrels’ worth.
Drilling for oil in the Judean Desert was approved yesterday by the Council of National Parks and Nature Reserves.
The companies believe that Zuk Tamrur 4, just north of Route 31 from Arad to the Dead Sea, is the best chance Israel has to find oil. That many barrels of oil, while not enough to power the country for more than a month, would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski
The council’s okay followed approval by the Nature and Parks Authority’s (NPA) Assembly, its highest governing body. The 23-member council advises the Environmental Protection Ministry and the NPA on matters of policy. It includes government, environmental, academic and public representatives.
Ginko director Rami Karmin told The Jerusalem Post Thursday that the drilling, the equipment and environmental requirements would cost between $5 million and $7m.
Hebrew University Institute of Earth Sciences Raymond F. Kravis Professor of Geology (Emeritus) Zvi Garfunkel told the Post Thursday that the fact that oil had been found previously could mean there was more.
“In previous drillings, they found a little bit of oil. Indeed, this is Zuk Tamrur 4. There might be a larger reservoir [around there]. But drilling companies usually keep the results of their surveys private,” he said. “There is no smoke without fire, but how big the smoke is and how big the fire is – only the companies know.”
The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) vehemently opposed the decision because of its potential impact on the reserve’s fragile ecosystem.
“The state’s institutions are obligated to protect the open spaces, the nature reserves, and most certainly such a special reserve like the Judean Desert, where biodiversity and an ecological system exist almost in their entirety. Therefore we are distressed that this was the decision reached,” Shai Tachnai, SPNI’s southern district coordinator for the preservation of nature, said in a statement.
SPNI quoted the representative of the National Infrastructures Ministry saying at the meeting Thursday morning that there was a 15-percent chance of finding oil below the reserve.
“In the last decade, we have brought about a revolution and turned the Negev and the Judean Desert from a land of quarries to a land of machteshim (erosion craters) and natural attractions. A 15% chance of finding oil does not justify the irreversible damage expected to occur,” Tachnai said.
Regarding that number, Karmin said the companies had never published such an assessment, but “we are optimistic.”
While SPNI protested, the NPA and Environmental Protection Ministry’s representatives voted in favor of the drilling Thursday. During the negotiations for approval from the NPA’s assembly, it was agreed that if oil were found, the pumping would take place from outside the reserve and the companies would rehabilitate any damage caused.
To test for oil, the companies would drill a 2,000-meter hole over 1.25 acres.
Delek Energy Systems and Avner are both controlled by Yitzhak Tshuva.
Does Israel really have oil? That seems to be the question everyone’s asking. Maybe it’s the wrong question. Turn’s out, Exxon and Shell have known about Israel’s oil for nearly ten years. Here’s a clipping from The Jerusalem Post, March 5, 1999. I’ll copy the text here since the clipping is a little hard to read (click on the clipping for a cleaner version).
As a geologist and managing director of various oil exploration companies in Israel over the past 20 years, I was quoted in several paragraphs of Michael Arnold’s article “Slippery dreams” (January 22). I would like to amend and add certain facts as follows:
The oil potential of Israel was evaluated twice at the request of the Israeli government. In 1962, Lewis Weeks, the former chief geologist at Exxon, determined that “the potential ultimate oil resources of Israel should be of the order of 500 to 2,000 million barrels from primary recovery… The figures do not include gas… which may equal 50% and upwards of that of the oil.”
In 1979, James Wilson, former chief geologist or Shell (US) determined that on-shore Israel (the off-shore and the Dead Sea Rift Valley were not included) has a potential of330 to 2,000 million barrels of recoverable oil.
Both these experts have been president of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.
Since the Wilson evaluation in 1979, extensive data have been accumulated relating to on-shore and off-shore Israel. From this data, it becomes clear that the total may exceed 2,000 million barrels.
Israel’s per annum consumption amounts to about 70 million barrels.
The 1962 evaluation predicted that “the finding and recovery of this oil and gas may require many decades” -and evidently assumed that such efforts would be made. Unfortunately, this has not been the case.
It is most likely that this failing is one of the main reasons why the forecast potential has not yet been discovered.
2,000 million barrels? That’s 2 billion barrels. That’s Exxon and Shell saying it. So the question isn’t “does Israel have any oil?” The question is, “If the big boys have known about this for so long, why haven’t they done anything about it?” The answer, unfortunately, is pretty easy. They’ve got larger, established assets in the Arab world and the Arab world has told them, “If you do business with Israel, don’t bother doing business here.” That’s what the 1973 oil embargo was all about.
What’s Israel’s answer? Keep supporting those who are exploring for the oil they know is there. What can we do about it? Stop wondering if Israel really has any oil. It does. If you want to see it come to the surface, support the exploration already in country. This piece of history will come about, and it won’t be long until it does. Those involved in that effort are destined to be written in to the story of Israel’s future.
Aug. 26, 2008
Ehud Zion Waldoks , THE JERUSALEM POST
The search for oil in Israel got a big push forward on Tuesday night after The Nature and Parks Authority general assembly approved plans for the drilling of an exploratory hole to search for oil in the Judean nature reserve. Two Israeli companies, Ginko Oil Exploration and Delek Energy Systems, believe there could be as much as 6.5 million barrels below the reserve.
The assembly approved Zuk Tamrur 4 on the condition that the Authority comes up with strict guidelines to reduce the environmental damage as much as possible. The assembly also demanded that the companies rehabilitate the area afterwards. In addition, if oil were to be found, the assembly ruled, the pumps to remove it would have to be placed outside the reserve.
Until now, the Authority’s administration had rejected all attempts at drilling, but they were overruled Tuesday by the general assembly, which comprises representatives of environmental organizations and the government.
Avraham Poraz, former internal affairs minister and now consultant to the oil companies, told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday night how he explained the issue to the assembly a month ago in the run-up to the decision.
“I put it to them very simply. One third of Israel is nature reserves. It cannot be that we can’t search for oil in one third of the country.
“Moreover, I told them that according to our ecological estimations, the damage would be minimal because we are talking about 1.25 acres without fences, or dogs or anything like that,” he told the Post.
The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) decried the decision.
“We are distressed that the assembly gave in to the pressures of the initiators, did not heed its own science committee’s recommendation against the plan and so will cause unnecessary damage to the reserve,” the organization said in a statement.
The Authority had suggested drilling a hole diagonally from outside the reserve to search for oil, but a geological consultant said that would create too many problems, an Authority spokesman said.
Ginko director Rami Karmin told the Post earlier this week that Zuk Tamrur 4 represented Israel’s best bet to find oil. He said they only needed 1.25 acres for two months to drill a hole 2,000 meters deep and see if they struck oil. 6.5 million barrels would be worth about $800 million, he added.
The area where the companies want to sink their hole represents a bridge for animal populations between the Judean and Negev reserves, the Authority’s science committee had written, and putting in a hole would block that narrow passageway. It had also said that any sort of drilling was bound to cause severe environmental damage and therefore recommended rejecting the request.
Two Israeli energy companies are convinced the best chance for finding oil in Israel lies at a site in the Judean Desert nature reserve and have stirred up a storm of controversy with their persistent requests to drill an exploratory hole.
The companies, Ginko Oil Exploration and Delek Energy System, want to drill in an empty corner of the desert. However, the Nature and Parks Authority Science Committee and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) contend that even exploratory drilling will destroy the fragile ecosystems in the reserve. The two sides will go head to head on Tuesday in front of the Nature and Parks Authority general assembly, the Authority’s highest body, which will decide whether to grant the companies’ request.
The situation, from an environmental perspective, has also been complicated by the fact that Environmental Protection Minister Gideon Ezra has recommended the drilling plan, although on the condition the ecological damage was reversible.
Ginko made headlines two years ago when it discovered a small amount of oil near the Dead Sea through Zuk Tamrur 3. This time around, Ginko director Rami Karmin believes Zuk Tamrur 4 in the reserve has the best chance to produce as much as 6.5 million barrels.
But even he admits that drilling for oil is “a tricky business” and there are no guarantees.
“We are talking about drilling in a spot that the Authority had already approved drilling there 10 years ago, and we requested that spot because we thought they’d approve it again. The district committee approved it two weeks ago and now we need the Authority’s approval,” he said.
“We need [approximately] 1.25 acres out of 150,000 for two months so that we can drill an exploratory hole 2,000 meters down. We had an ecological company evaluate the area. There have also been other exploratory holes in the Dead Sea area and you can’t even see them anymore,” Karmin argued.
According to Karmin, Zuk Tamrur 4 is the likeliest place in Israel to find oil because of its unique geological properties.
“There is oil around the Dead Sea but the constant little earthquakes that occur because the Sea is on a fault line release the pressure before the oil can be driven to the surface. At this spot, there is a four-way closure and there is a good chance there is oil there,” he said.
However, SPNI argued Sunday in a position paper ahead of Tuesday’s meeting that the relatively small predicted reservoir did not justify the massive ecological damage. Israel uses about 80 million barrels of oil per year, or 270,000 per day. 6.5 million barrels would meet Israel’s needs for less than a month.
Karmin contended that the amount of oil wasn’t the point, its cost was.
“Six-and-a-half million barrels is worth about $800 million. The government would be receiving about $400m. in fees and taxes – can we really afford to turn down that much money?” he demanded.
The Authority’s Science Committee, nevertheless, has submitted its assessment report to the general assembly and has counseled the body to prohibit the companies from drilling. The committee consists of, among others, two professors and two doctors, including the Environmental Protection Ministry’s chief scientist Dr. Yishayahu Baror – who apparently disagrees with his minister.
Rather than a deserted corner of the desert, the site actually sits in the middle of a very narrow corridor which serves as a natural transit area between the Judean Desert Reserve and the Negev reserve, the committee said. Disturbing the area would have a massive impact on plant and animal life in the whole area, they argued. Animal populations would be cut off from their main groups with no way to get back to the Negev, they said.
The committee addressed both the potential damage from the initial drilling, but also the greater potential impact of striking oil.
While an exploratory hole would inevitably cause some damage, if oil was found, much more damage would result, the committee wrote. A constant stream of tanker trucks and the new roads they would require would doubtless result in severe damage. Even putting up lights, as is usual for drilling sites, would adversely affect the delicate ecosystems. The inevitable accidents if oil were found would pollute the ground in the area as well, according to the report.
The committee concluded by reminding the general assembly that it was precisely their job to protect nature in the face of such threats.
Meanwhile, even if the committee voted against granting them permission on Tuesday, Karmin vowed to employ additional legal measures to get the permits.