Shortly after she stepped down from her position as Prime Minister Golda Meir toured the US. In talking about the advantages in resources the Arab states had over Israel, she blamed Moses. Too bad, that after leading his people across the miraculously parted Red Sea, he did not turn right—to where the oil was—but instead turned left. Moses gets a bad rap. For decades people have been complaining about his sense of direction because he led the Children of Israel out of Egypt and into the only plot of land in the region that didn’t have any oil. But Moses’ sense of direction may be making a comeback. A major oil field has ben discovered in the Golan Heights.
As reported by the Israel business site Globes, the oil has been found by Afek Oil and Gas which is the Israeli subsidiary of U.S. company Genie Energy:
Afek Oil and Gas chief geologist Dr. Yuval Bartov told Channel 2 News, “We are talking about a strata which is 350 meters thick and what is important is the thickness and the porosity. On average in the world strata are 20-30 meters thick, so this is ten times as large as that, so we are talking about significant quantities. The important thing is to know the oil is in the rock and that’s what we now know.”Three drillings have so far taken place in the southern Golan Heights which have found large reserves of oil. Potential production is dramatic – billions of barrels, which will easily provide all Israel’s oil needs. Israel consumes 270,000 barrels of oil per day.
Although the existence of the oil in the ground is a fact, the critical phase now is to check how easily it can be extracted and whether it involves high production costs. In a period of very low oil prices, extraction will have to be relatively cheap to make exploitation of the field profitable.
There are other issues:
Experts say actually extracting meaningful quantities of oil from the deposits is likely some time away. Some have suggested that while the find could be very significant, the announcement might have as much to do with the share price of the exploration company as the actual certainty that oil will be produced at the site.
The other key consideration in the development of the potential oil feed is its close proximity to the vicious fighting taking place just over the border in neighboring Syria, where ISIS and other jihadi organizations had been battling the Syrian forces of President Assad and his Iran-backed allies Lebanon-based Hezbollah even before Russia’ recent entry into the regional conflict.
A final issue is from the environmentalists. They have been trying to get the drilling stopped in the courts (they’ve lost).
“Declarations of oil discoveries in the Golan Heights are a deception, and are misleading the public,” said Mor Gilboa, CEO of the national student environmental movement, Green Course.
Despite the company’s repeated reminders that its permits only allow for exploratory drilling and prohibit nonconventional oil production, Gilboa asserted that the type of oil found in the wells would likely prove to be “tight” and necessitate nonconventional fracking methods. Afek has long maintained, however, that the oil found in the Golan is just as likely conventional as tight and would not necessarily require fracking for extraction.
Hydraulic fracturing is the use of sand, water, and chemicals injected at high pressures to blast open shale rock and release the trapped oil or gas inside. The question raised by fracking is if the process contaminates drinking water. But that concern has been proven baseless many times, most recently in April 2015 when the EPA in the U.S. announced the agency “did not find evidence” that any process has “led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.” The full study can be found here.
Whether or not the company needs to use fracking or other extraction methods doesn’t really matter in the end because now we know that Moses’ sense of direction was right!