The deepest oil well drilled in Israel’s 65-year history may be the most important.
Houston’s Noble Energy Inc. (NBL) will probe 6,500 meters (4 miles) below the Mediterranean seabed later this year, targeting as much as 1.5 billion barrels of crude, equal to about 15 years of Israeli demand.
While explorers have found enough natural gas in the past five years to turn Israel into an exporter, a major oil discovery would break new ground. The Middle East’s third-largest economy spends about $10 billion a year importing 98 percent of the oil it uses. Domestic production would increase tax revenue, boost the country’s balance of payments and reduce vulnerability to supply disruptions.
“The economic impact on Israel would be far greater than that of natural gas,” David Wurmser, director of the Washington-based Delphi Global Analysis Group, said in a phone interview. “Finding the oil would mean big money for the Israeli companies and the government.”
Zion Oil & Gas announced yesterday in a newsletter to shareholders and friends that results from their second re-entry into the Elijah #3 well failed to give enough evidence of hydrocarbons to continue developing the well. Read more
Zion Oil & Gas began re-entry operations this week at their Elijah #3 well in Northern Israel. Israeli drilling company, Lapidoth, erected it’s drilling rig and prepared the site. Zion is scheduled to begin its vertical seismic profile operation in the well early next week after completing wireline logging.
Russia’s Gazprom, the Russian natural gas monopoly, was back in Israel this week meeting with Delek Group executives to ‘examine possible cooperation’ in producing and delivering natural gas to Europe from Israel’s newly discovered massive gas fields in the Mediterranean.
According to a Globes Business report, “Gazprom’s aims are still unclear. The major concern in Israel’s gas exploration sector is that the Russian energy company wants to block possible gas exports to Europe. Even if Israel’s Leviathan is a relatively minor player in the European gas market compared with the Russian giant, the prices agreed upon and types of contracts signed by Israeli companies could create unwelcome precedents from Gazprom’s point of view.”
The report goes on to say that Gazprom is the world’s largest natural gas producer and, unlike other multi-national energy companies, has no concerns over Arab boycott threats.
For more than three years, OilinIsrael.net has been reporting on Gazprom’s attempts to participate in and plans to control the Mediterranean and European gas markets (see “Russia Tried to Buy in to Israel’s Gas Discovery”). Gazprom isn’t merely the world’s largest natural gas supplier, it is a company controlled by the Russian government. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, was Gazprom’s CEO before taking his current position as head of state.
The prophet Ezekiel wrote: “‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against you, Gog (Russia), chief prince of Meshek and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army …’” (Ezekiel 38:3-4)
“On that day thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil scheme. You will say, “I will invade a land of unwalled villages; I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people (Israel) —all of them living without walls and without gates and bars. I will plunder and loot and turn my hand against the resettled ruins and the people gathered from the nations, rich in livestock and goods, living at the center of the land.” (Ezekiel 38:10-12)
The Bible prophesies that, one day, God will ‘put a hook’ in Russia’s jaw to draw it down into Israel, where it will plan to ‘plunder and loot’ an ‘unsuspecting people’. Are Israel’s newly discovered natural gas fields and, eventually, it’s oil the ‘hook’ that draws Russia into Israel? That may be.
But if it’s so, Russia had better take warning in Ezekiel’s prophecy:
“This is what will happen in that day: When Gog (Russia) attacks the land of Israel, my hot anger will be aroused, declares the Sovereign LORD. In my zeal and fiery wrath I declare that at that time there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. The fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the beasts of the field, every creature that moves along the ground, and all the people on the face of the earth will tremble at my presence. The mountains will be overturned, the cliffs will crumble and every wall will fall to the ground. I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Sovereign LORD. Every man’s sword will be against his brother. I will execute judgment on him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him. And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD.’” (Ezekiel 38:18-23)
If there is an “evil scheme” brewing in the mind of Gog, I would advise Gazprom, and Russia’s President, Mr. Medvedev of the one lesson that continues to repeat itself throughout history: Don’t mess with Israel.
Zion Oil & Gas debuted it’s 2012 Corporate video, “The Joseph Project”, during last week’s National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. In the video Zion Founder John Brown reviews the company’s mission and vision for Israel. Zion CEO Richard Rinberg and COO Victor Carrillo share their thoughts on the recent and future exploration activities.
Zion Oil & Gas is dedicated to finding and producing oil and gas in Israel.
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.
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.
Steven Spillman speaking at the 2010 Louisiana Bible Prophecy Conference. “Jacob’s Blessing: The Treasures of the Deep”. The Bible prophecies a last days oil discovery in Israel.