Does Israel Have Oil? Wrong Question.

September 10, 2008 by  

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.

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2 Responses to “Does Israel Have Oil? Wrong Question.”

  1. Israel » Yaarot HaCarmel on September 11th, 2008 1:26 am

    [...] Does Israel Have Oil? Wrong Question.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’sa clipping from The Jerusalem Post, … [...]

  2. Simcha Baker on August 30th, 2009 1:39 am

    Simcha (gladness) has returned to Israel after 9 years in the U.S. Does Israel Have Oil? – That’s a Certainty!!

    As Exploration Manager and Chief Geologist for INOC (Israel National Oil Company) from 1992-1997, I was responsible with assistance from my staff for prospect origination (April, 1994), drilling and testing the Zuk Tamrur #3 well (late 1994-early 1995). In addition, I was also the prospect originator of the Zuk Tamrur #4 prospect and wrote the Recommendation for Drilling book, which was issued as a proprietary report by INOC in May 1996. Inasmuch as the location of the proposed ZT-4 well in BOTH my and Ginko’s evaluation is 3 kilometers north of the #3 location and that my estimate of the unrisked expected oil potential is 6.4 million barrels as compared to the 6.5 million barrel estimate of Ginko, makes me wonder what Ginko may have added to my original evaluation 13+ years ago. Don’t get me wrong. I am not after personal credit, gain or glory. My main purpose is to historically “clear the air” as to how Ginko arrived at this prospect which it apparently touts as its own and the consequences to the general public of such unwarranted credit-taking. Also, I have no problem with Ginko drilling my prospect – and I expect Ginko to find the oil I predicted! INOC did not drill the ZT-4 well back then in 1996 because the Israeli government (under Prime Minister Netanyahu’s term) decided to freeze INOC’s exploration efforts prior to privatizing INOC shortly after. At the time of the sale of INOC, the Zuk Tamrur-4 report became available to the public as an open file report. Dr. Eli Tannenbaum, now lead geologist for Ginko, was intimately involved as the geochemical consultant for INOC in the Zuk Tamrur-3 well drilling and testing, representing his own company, Kimron. As such, he was also familiar with INOC’s subsequent exploration effort in ZT-4. However, I offer much kudos to Ginko for having the wherewithal, both financially and politically, to get the well drilled now.

    The world power profile will definitely shift and Israel’s economy will boom if Israel can discover a couple of billion barrels of oil. I have already identified geologically the complete story, from every scientific aspect, as to where the oil MUST be trapped. Also, I have already written the Recommendation for Drilling Prospect Book(s) whose prospects have an upper limit of 2 billion barrels of trapped oil! Coincidentally, see the Jerusalem Post – North American Edition of March 5, 1999 where, incredibly, both Exxon in 1962 (“the potential ultimate oil resources of Israel should be of the order of 500 to 2,000 million barrels from primary recovery”) and Shell in 1979 (“that on-shore Israel has the potential of 330 to 2,000 million barrels of recoverable oil”) determined such a similar upper limit. Side note: Saudi Arabia is approximately 100 times larger in area than Israel and has about 200 billion barrels of recoverable oil which happens to be 100 times larger than my proposal for Israel’s potential 2 billion barrels. In other words, Israel may have as much oil relatively speaking as Saudi Arabia!!, or at least in the same relative order of magnitude. Two billion barrels of oil will provide Israel with about 20 years of oil energy independence at today’s rate of consumption. The oil IS there in Israel – that is a geological given; oil hunters in Israel just need to look in the right place. HINT: The “elephant” (very large oil accumulations) hunting grounds for giant and super giant oil fields in Israel is EAST (I said “EAST”) of the Heletz Ridge and WEST (I said “WEST”) of the Judean Hills. Financial note: Two billion barrels of oil at today’s US$70/barrel equals US$140 billion in gross revenus (before expenses and taxes) over a maximum time frame of 20 years!

    Everything I have written above is truthful and factual. Is anybody interested? Does anybody care? Enough said for now. I will answer any inquiries and questions as the need arises, but obviously will not expose any proprietary knowledge without proper arrangements and agreements. I will monitor this site for any responses.

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