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.
Seems like we can’t get enough Dead Sea oil discovery news lately. Just today The Jordan Times ran an article apparently confirming the existence of a Dead Sea oil discovery on their side of the salt lake.
According to The Jordan Times:
After years of disappointment, many came to accept that the Kingdom is home to little or no oil reserves.
But with recent claims of the possibility of Jordanian oil, and a parliamentary committee examining the issue, the subject has been elevated to a national discourse steeped in controversy and unanswered questions.
The issue dates back to 1996, when the Natural Resources Authority (NRA) signed a Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) with US company Trans-Global to explore for oil in the Dead Sea area….
Over the next few years, the firm dug four wells at Isaal and Wadi Mujib, some thousands of metres deep, in hope that the rift valley would yield any positive results.
According to the company, logging data and technical studies of the wells revealed huge oil traps of hydrocarbons with significant commercial potential and large oil pays, the solid technical indicators of a major oil discovery.
On August 15, 2005, as per the PSA, the company said it officially informed the NRA of its discovery, but the authority declined to review the studies, according to Trans-Global, which felt there was little interest on the part of the NRA administration to follow through.
“This is the exact opposite of how any petroleum ministry in the world would respond to the discovery of oil,” Trans-Global General Manager Nazeeh Abraham told The Jordan Times.
“We claimed a significant oil discovery, and instead of developing it they denied it. We then faced obstructions every step on the way, preventing us from starting a large accelerated drilling development programme,” he added.
Frustrated with the lack of interest from the authority, Trans-Global announced the discovery during the 9th International Geological Conference of the Jordanian Geologists Association in Amman in April last year.
The announcement created an uproar and came as a shock to the NRA.
“They went public without ever informing us, which is a breach of the PSA. We were only told of a technical discovery, which doesn’t mean much in the oil business,” NRA Director Maher Hijazin told The Jordan Times.
“We have all the documents to prove that there is no discovery,” he stressed.
Although the announcement was shocking to many, it came as no surprise to Jordanian Geologists Association (JGA) President Khaled Shawabkeh.
He claimed that the NRA drilled at least five wells in the area in the 1990s, and found oil in different quantities, although their commercial viability was not verified.
Lack of support and technical difficulties brought on by the area’s topography prevented the authority from any further exploration, and the subject was shelved, he said.
“In my view, Trans-Global has made an oil discovery. The quantity and commercial quality of this discovery should now be explored,” the JGA president stressed.
Weatherford, Reeves Logging Ltd., one of 14 third-party companies that performed assessment studies for Trans-Global on the Isaal and Wadi Mujib wells, said it could not confirm or deny the existence of oil in the area, as their only purpose was to log data, not analyse it.
Another industry source, however, told The Jordan Times that the independent third-party studies pointed to “a strong possibility” of commercially viable oil in the Dead Sea area.