Israel’s oil could provoke next war

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Does Israel have oil? The very phrase Israel’s oil could change the game in the Middle East—and provoke all-out war.

Could Israel really have oil?

The Zion Oil and Gas Company has been looking for oil along the Mediterranean coast, and just south of the Sea of Galilee, for several years. Two days ago they announced that they had drilled a test well in their Joseph License lands (between Haifa and Tel Aviv) to 5900 meters. They earlier found large hydrocarbon deposits at the site, usually a good sign.

In August of 2010, the Givot Olam company announced a find of 1.5 billion barrels near Rosh Ha’Ayin (literally “head of the spring”). But the Israeli newspaper Ha’Aretz (“The Land”) pointed out that the reserve would be far too small, and Givot Olam could never hope to pump the oil out fast enough to make a dent in Israel’s oil imports.

But Israel has discovered two huge fields of natural gas:

  1. The Tamar field, off the Mediterranean coast south of Jaffa, and
  2. The Leviathan field, offshore near the 1949 armistice line between Israel and Lebanon.

Then on April 9, 2011, came this stunning announcement. The Israel Energy Initiative now hopes to extract oil from shale near the Shfela Basin, southwest of Jerusalem. Harold Vinegar, formerly of Royal Dutch Shell, guesses that the Shfela shale sands hold 250 billion barrels of oil. That’s almost as much as the proved reserves in Saudi Arabia (260 billion barrels). (More here.)

Biblical support for Israel oil

John Brown of Zion Oil and Gas, and Tovia Luskin of Givot Olam, both cite the Bible for clues. Specifically, they cite Deuteronomy, Moses’ farewell to the Israelites before he died.

Blessed of the LORD be [Joseph’s] land, with the choice things of heaven, with the dew, and from the deep lying beneath… [ch. 33:13]

[T]hey will draw out the abundance of the seas, and the hidden treasures of the sand. [ch. 33:19]

May [Asher] dip his foot in oil. [ch. 33:24]

Those verses have come true, though not exactly as Brown and Luskin guessed. Shale oil is surely a “hidden treasure in the sand.” The offshore natural gas wells are “abundances of the seas.”

If Israel’s oil existed as shale, that would be enough. But the original Hebrew verb in verse 19 speaks of sucking, not merely drawing. Israelis often speculate that the Saudi oil reserves lie in a pool that extends under Israeli territory. They dream of drilling a well into that pool and “sucking out” Saudi Arabia’s vaunted reserves.

How long have Israelis looked for oil?

 

The Orot Rabin power station, south of Caesaria Maritima. Israel’s oil might make this obsolete.

The Orot Rabin power station, south of Caesaria Maritima. Israel’s oil might make this obsolete. Photo: CNAV

Israeli Jews tell a standing joke: Moses took a wrong turn, because he led his people to the one place in the Middle East with no oil. In 1967, Israel captured the Sinai Peninsula from Gamal Abdel Nasser. For ten years Israel did have oil. But in 1977, Israel gave the Sinai back to Egypt, in return for a right of first refusal on oil from the Sinai. That agreement, part of the peace treaty with Egypt, will not last, if the “Freedom and Justice Party” (a Muslim Brotherhood movement) has its way.

Almost since the Camp David Accords, Israelis have longed for a reliable energy source of their own, or at least any energy source other than oil. (The Israel Electric Company has one power plant along the Coastal Road between Caesaria Maritima and Tel Aviv that can burn coal, and has no commercial nuclear program.)

Hosni Mubarak signed another agreement in 2008 to supply Israel with natural gas. When American and Israeli gas explorers found the Tamar and Leviathan fields, business experts said that the Egyptians would undersell them anyway, so that they wouldn’t make any money from them. That was before the “Arab Spring.” Terrorists have sabotaged the Egyptian gas pipeline twice. The gas is back on, but it will not stay on. And the government knows it.

But if Israel has oil, none of that need matter anymore.

Where is Israel’s oil?

The best part of this news is: Israel’s oil lies west of the 1949 Armistice Line.

The Shfela Basin lies well to the west of the Jerusalem-Bethlehem road and hence outside the “West Bank” region. Nevertheless, multinational oil companies have never wanted to help develop Israel’s oil resources. They have not wanted to lose their connections to Arab oil. And on that account, they are walking away from an oil reserve almost as large as that of Saudi Arabia.

IEI is a subsidiary of the American telecommunications company IDT (Newark, NJ). IEI hopes to extract the shale oil at a surprisingly low cost: $35 to $40 a barrel, or about the same as it costs to pump oil from some offshore wells. Moreover, Vinegar believes that he can take this oil without harming the environment. The well also produces natural gas, which he will burn on-site to heat the rocks to release the oil. So IEI will not have to dig a big hole in the ground or have any wastes to dispose of.

Would Israel’s oil mean peace or war?

It will probably mean war, for two reasons. First, the West Bank and Gaza lands have none of this shale. So the “Palestinian” Arabs would get no royalties. All the royalties would flow to Israel.

Second, the Arabs always threatened to shut off oil to the West if they either stopped the Arabs from wiping out Israel, or didn’t stop Israel from wiping them out. They did it in and after the Yom Kippur War. But this time, Israel would not only have all the fuel it needed, but would be able to make up the difference, or close to it, by selling oil directly to America and Europe.

Obviously, the Arabs would not want to lose their strategic advantage. Lawrence Solomon of Energy Probe is confident that Israel’s oil would buy peace. But your editor is not so confident. Expect more and bolder terrorist attacks against the Shfela Basin oil field. The terrorists might stage out of Gaza, which is very close to Shfela.

Remember, also, that the Leviathan field is near the Lebanon side of the Armistice Line. Not only Israel’s oil, but Israel’s gas could be a target of an all-out attack by Syria and Hamas (the group that runs Gaza).

How might Israel’s oil change Israel’s relationships with its friends?

The F-16 Fighting Falcon. Israel’s oil could replace this with an Israeli version.

The F-16 Fighting Falcon. Israel’s oil could replace this with an Israeli version. Photo: T. M. Wolf. CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic License.

The phrase Israel’s friends is almost oxymoronic today. Israel’s oil would change that. For one thing, Israel would stop depending on American foreign aid. (They might even be more likely to lend us help!) An independent—and independently wealthy—Israel could at last build its own aircraft industry. Israel already exports high technology, and famously exports small arms. Now imagine Israel exporting jet fighters. The only reason that Israel does not build a plane equal to the General Dynamics F-16 is that the US State Department told them to stop developing it, or America would cut off its funds. Israel’s oil would mean that Israel’s own money could help build that plane after all.

In Europe, motor fuel prices are even higher than they are here. Israel’s oil could bring those prices down, and at least let Europe choose whether to depend on the Arabs—or not. (The Arabs surely know this, and cannot welcome this news.) But they might not make the wise choice. Anti-Jewish sentiment is building in Italy, Turkey, and elsewhere. The idea of Israel having oil might foster resentment, not a friendly attitude.

How soon might Israel’s oil come on-line?

Howard Vinegar guesses that he can deliver shale oil from the Shfela Basin by 2017. War might break out sooner than that, if the Arabs decide that they don’t want to risk losing their edge over Israel. The ancient Philistines tried hard to keep the Israelites dependent on Philistine metalworkers, in fear that Israel would develop its own armament industry. (I Samuel 13:19) Today the Arabs will lose their oil weapon—and they might not take that loss gracefully.

Featured image: the Flag of Israel.

Editor-in-chief at | + posts

Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

27 Responses to Israel’s oil could provoke next war

  1. Sharon Aykers says:

    This is identical to the scam that World Net Daily and the Christian Zionists ran on the Israelis in 1998.

    Reference: Hayseed Stephens.. Ness Oil ..

    They fleeced alot of people.

    Its even the same location.

    There is no ALL STAR TEAM of OIL EXECS.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Have you any evidence of that? You do understand, don’t you, that I did not even cite WorldNetDaily in this story? You further understand that Zion Oil and Gas does exist, they do trade on the National Association of Securities Dealers’ Automated Quotations (NASDAQ) system (ticker symbol: ZN), and their information releases are a matter of public record?

      And guess what: you blew the location. See here. For your information, “Hayseed Stephens” was looking just south of the Dead Sea. ZN is drilling on the Med coast (along the Coast Road) and also just south of the Sea of Galilee and not the Dead Sea.

      Do you have any other evidence to present? If so, then kindly address yourself to the Securities and Exchange Commission. (ZN is a Delaware corporation, so the SEC would be interested in what you have, if you have anything at all.)

      And if you don’t, just remember this: anything you publish in this comment space is out there, in public. Your e-mail is on record, and only I have the power to delete the comment. Now if you want to hang yourself out for a lawsuit by ZN for libel, go ahead. If not, then I suggest that you follow up your comment with an immediate statement of withdrawal.

  2. Tonto says:

    Makes me wonder if the Israelis haven’t already tried to make inroads in the slant drill techniques in use in Texas for many years. Probably the only limit would be in coming up with enough pipe.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      ROFL! If you’re thinking what it sounds like, then you do have one wicked imagination!

      No, they wouldn’t do that. But they are looking for oil where the Bible seems to say that they’ll find it. And thus far, they’ve gotten their most promising signs by doing just that.

      • Rohan says:

        The verses you quoted posit resources or wealth (not neccessaily oil) in the sea and sand. Where else could they be, the sky?

  3. Mike says:

    How many shares of ZION stock does the writer of this article own? Maybe there was a disclosure statement and I just missed it.

  4. stuart cobb says:

    Great article. I am an investor in Zion Oil & Gas. Zion has just completed drilling into the Permian layer & has reported hydrocarbon shows prior to reaching the target depth. Zion has also applied for an exploration permit to the land adjacent to the well which is a bullish indicator. I believe we are going to have a producing well here. Blessings to Israel & to all those who invest in Israel!

    • Phil Moser says:

      I also am invested in Zion Oil an I have been a petroleum geologist for over thiry years. Zion is drilling awfully deep >17,000′ for oil and it is not the shale oil which has most recently reported. The Zion test is a vertical test and these wells are much more expensive than the typical shale oil well which may drill much shallower vertically. let’s say 8,000′ and the drill nearly a mile horizontally within the target shale formation. I would like to know if Zion has any leases on the “oil shale” fairway?

      • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

        So would I. In fact, the shale oil venture involves an entirely different country. ZN is looking to drill a conventional well.

  5. Dwayne says:

    “drilled a test well in their Joseph License lands (between Haifa and Tel Aviv) to 5900 meters”

    Well there not going to find any oil drilling with liberal European methods like that. America has the finest drillers in the world and we drill in FEET, not this dumb commie metric crap.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Now, now! The metric system goes a bit further back than Karl Marx. It has its basis in the earth itself: 1/10,000,000 of the distance from the equator to the North Pole. And if they really wanted to specify old-line units, they’d have to use cubits—about 12000 of them in this case.

    • Yay! says:

      Yeah. America is the only nation still using the awesome imperial system. Everyone else abandoned it for the completely useless metric system. Everyone else is stupid. Eebowai bless America!!!

  6. Jman says:

    Interesting.
    I am not right leaning in my politics but am going to assume your correct here (oil in Israel). It would really be a game changer in the middle east with Israel having oil. But really the middle east is unpredictable, a ‘cup of trembling’, even without oil the situation is very uncertain. With the unrest in Syria, Egypt and possibly other places in the coming years we cannot tell what type of policy is going to be coming out of these countries towards Israel. We can assume that like middle eastern public view on Israel the policies will be aggressive. But half the middle east relies upon US aid to keep the peace, would any of those countries (Iran excluded) want to risk losing their US support by attacking Israel?
    Even the Obama government will fight for Israel, because the ‘left’ in the USA is ‘right’ compared to world standards… I cannot see an attack on Israel happening if it puts at risk USA aid

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Look again at Obama at the photo-op with Netanyahu on May 20. Netanyahu gave him the business. And Obama sat there, chin cradled between thumb and forefinger, wrinkling his nose and stretching his lips tighter than wind-instrument reeds. You half expected him to say, “Jew!” Or even “Yehudah!” (in Arabic).

      The time might come when US aid disappears, because the US government finally goes bankrupt.

      Or consider the position in which the Arab governments will find themselves, should Iran attack. Might they not join in? Saudi Arabia might not—they loathe and fear the Iranians. But Egypt, Libya, and Syria would.

      In fact, the Bible predicts that they will. Cf. Ezekiel chapter 38.

    • Brian says:

      US Aid what a joke with all of the oil money that the middle east has, they need our aid ( thats anothe battle in itself) , Right that will not stop them from attacking Isreal! Please!

  7. Len Aaron says:

    Apex of OPEC: ZNEOPEC is Rising…

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  9. Mike Sanders says:

    I have read a great deal since January about the oil found in Israel. I got turned on to this information from a web site about prophecy in the Bible and Ezekiel 38 and 39. I follow the site regularly and they have publish some shocking finds related to Israel and prophecy. The article related to the oil in Israel was http://howlongolord.com/?p=219 but since that time they have discovered that the exact day Israel was reborn in 1948 was foretold in scripture 2500 years earlier. The proof that Israel would be reborn at that exact day lets you know that we are in the last days. If you are interested check out the info first hand http://howlongolord.com

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  11. […] abroad who would suffer needlessly from such a policy? Actually, the best friend America has is the Republic of Israel. The Republic of Israel today would never want an American military guarantee. The most they would […]

  12. […] Oil could provoke next war […]

  13. Sigmund says:

    This article’s title is a little confusing. Regarding the question “Could Israel really have oil?” the answer is that, as stated in the body of the article, for several years it has been well known that Israel has substantial oil and natural gas reserves. Givot Olam, mentioned as having 1.5 billion barrels, is already producing up to 900 barrels a day,a considerable amount. The natural gas fields are being developed as rapidly as possible. They are not huge by world standards, but they are big enough that Israel should be energy independent for at least 30 years once these are brought online. Also, Israel will probably have enough to export some to other countries. But it won’t become another Saudi Arabia with respect to energy.

    The supposed 250 billion barrels is entirely different. This is the potentially obtainable amount of oil that could be derived from processing oil shale and converting it to a type of oil. Oil shale contains no actual oil. It is a type of rock that can be processed to produce considerable oil via a difficult expensive process. The hope is that this process will become easier and cheaper. Dr. Vinegar says this will be possible by 2017. That would be great, but I am a little skeptical than anyone could be sure of that. If so, then Israel really will have the equivalent of Saudia Arabia’s oil reserves. But, the United States has about 2 Trillion barrels worth of oil shale, i.e. 8 times as much. So if Dr. Vinegar is right (and I truly hope he is), the United States will be in great shape. This could supply the entire world’s demands for about 60 years. Hopefully, by that time, we really will have a decent alternative to hydrocarbons.

    By the way, don’t confuse oil shale with shale oil. There is typically quite a lot of oil between the layers of shale. We are already recovering some of that but it is hard to get. Probably Israel has some too if it has that much shale. But that will be just a small fraction of what theoretically could be obtained by a oil shale conversion process.

    Also, oil sands are different. They actually have quite a lot of oil in them. Canada has the most oil sands. The Obama administration recently approved a pipeline from Canada to pump it down here to the US. Environmentalists were outraged because it is dirtier than regular oil and accidental spills are even worse to clean up. Actually, I am highly attuned to protecting the environment myself. But I grudingly accept this on the basis of our extreme need to source energy from friendly nations. I wish we did not need it. But we do. Like it or not (and I don’t like it), we will need lots of energy from hydrocarbon sources for decades. Solar and wind power are great ideas, but for now they are merely supplemental. But 60 years from now…I hope we’ll be able to do a lot better.

  14. Mr.bennett says:

    this is a great thing for the Israelis because Bible prophecy is being fulfilled.God also blessed and promised the arabs there blessings it is time for the fig tree to grow and prosper accordingly

  15. […] the Texas-based Zion Oil and Gas Company has prospected in northern Israel and the Jordan Valley for years. Thus far, they have yet to strike […]

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  17. Fergus Mason says:

    “The only reason that Israel does not build a plane equal to the General Dynamics F-16 is that the US State Department told them to stop developing it”

    Well, that and their lack of an aircraft industry. A minor point, but a relevant one nonetheless. There’s a big difference between fitting modern electronics to a Mirage, F4 or F16 airframe (which Israel can do very well) and designing your own aircraft from scratch (which it can’t do at all.) The fact is that Israel is just too small to support that kind of industry. At a minimum you need a population and economy the size of France.

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