Oil find could rev­o­lu­tionise Is­raeli energy

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY JC RE­PORTER

THE DIS­COV­ERY of huge oil re­serves in Is­rael could trans­form the coun­try’s energy pol­icy, turn­ing it into a masspro­ducer of bil­lions of bar­rels of oil.

The Is­raeli sub­sidiary of an Amer­i­can com­pany made a sig­nif­i­cant break­through in the Golan Heights, close to the bor­der with Syria, last week — lead­ing ex­perts to la­bel the find as “gamechang­ing”.

Fur­ther ex­plo­ration will re­veal whether the oil­fields could rev­o­lu­tionise Is­rael’s energy mar­ket, mak­ing it self-suf­fi­cient and re­shap­ing its re­la­tion­ship with Arab neigh­bours.

The coun­try’s con­sumers use 270,000 bar­rels of oil each day, but ex­perts said the size of the find could po­ten­tially cover that de­mand. The re­serves are said to be around 10 times the size of the av­er­age find.

The po­ten­tial cost of re­mov­ing the oil has not yet been cal­cu­lated. The qual­ity of the oil and ex­act quan­tity will not be known un­til ex­trac­tion be­gins.

Yu­val Bar­tov, chief ge­ol­o­gist of Afek Oil and Gas, a branch of US firm Ge­nie Energy, told Is­rael media that its dis­cov­ery was “sig­nif­i­cant” and had caused “enor­mous ex­cite­ment”.

Ge­nie saw shares rise by al­most 20 per cent in New York af­ter news of the dis­cov­ery broke. The com­pany’s chief ex­ec­u­tive and chair­man, Howard Jones, said he was “op­ti­mistic” that the po­ten­tial ben­e­fits of the find could be max­imised.

But some energy ex­perts were scep­ti­cal. Pre­vi­ous oil fields dis­cov­ered in cen­tral Is­rael failed to live up to ex­pec­ta­tions once ex­trac­tion work started.

There could also be le­gal com­pli­ca­tions. En­vi­ron­men­tal groups have com­plained about the im­pact of the drilling and took their case to Is­rael’s high­est courts.

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