Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Israel: An Oil Producer to Rival Saudi Arabia? [UPDATED WITH MAP]

 

Could very well be.

The World Energy Council has determined that about 30 miles southwest of Jerusalem, in the Shfela Basin, there are oil shale deposits with the potential to yield 250 billion barrels of oil. This represents the world’s third-largest quantity of oil shale behind the US and China. Oilprice.com notes that both those countries would consume almost all their own production, so Israel could conceivably become the world’s largest exporter of shale oil.

Saudi Arabia’s proven oil reserves are 260 billion barrels, so we would appear to be in the running as an energy giant — particularly in view of the enormous natural gas finds at the Tamar and Leviathan fields. But there’s quite a distance yet to travel. For one thing, extracting oil from shale isn’t the same as drilling it out of the ground. It’s more difficult and more expensive.

Some serious minds are on the case, though. The Wall Street Journal reported two months ago that Harold Vinegar, perhaps the leading authority on the extraction of oil from shale, is heading up a start-up in Jerusalem called Israel Energy Initiatives (IEI). Larry Solomon, global warming skeptic and executive director of Canadian environmental agency Energy Probe, told Sun News this week that Vinegar’s team is backed by several powerful and motivated figures, including Dick Cheney, Baron Rothschild, and Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch holds a 0.5% stake in Genie Energy, IEI’s U.S.-based parent company.

Both the Journal and Sun News point out that while oil shale extraction was once uneconomical, two factors have altered that picture: the oil price has gone way up, and the Israeli team has figured out a way of extracting the oil for about $35-40 a barrel.

According to Vinegar, Israel has several other advantages besides its proprietary extraction technique. In Colorado, for instance, there is an aquifer that runs right through the shale. In Israel, the aquifer is hundreds of feet below it. Also, the Israeli deposits are believed to be extremely rich, with the potential to yield 23-25 gallons of oil per ton.

Still, it will take years of planning and billions of dollars before any of this comes to fruition. IEI is still awaiting its first permit, and as an Israeli citizen who waited three years for a permit to build a little house, my sympathies go out to IEI’s investors. But in view of the recent disruption of our natural gas imports from Egypt and the cutoff of our Russian oil imports when we were at war with Hezbollah in 2006, there is some urgency to our achievement of energy independence. And once the technology is up and running, it’s entirely conceivable that we’ll become a significant net energy exporter.

israel-jordan-oil-shale-map-400.gifUPDATE: The map to the left is from the US Geological Survey. The red stars represent oil shale deposits, which as you can see are scattered across sovereign Israel and Jordan. None were detected in the West Bank or Gaza.

There are 38 comments.

  1. Paul A. Rahe Contributor

    If these estimates turn out to be right, it is fabulous news for Israel and very good news for the United States. Can you imagine what it would mean if the Europeans were to look to Israel for their oil?

    • #1
    • June 15, 2011, at 4:14 AM PST
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  2. John Marzan Inactive

    Wonder how Obama would have treated this news if they found something similar in the US of A?

    • #2
    • June 15, 2011, at 4:27 AM PST
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  3. EllieP Inactive

    Sounds like Israeli developers/producers have their own regulatory issues. But, this is very good news for Israel. It makes me wonder what other new oil and gas discoveries are awaiting.

    • #3
    • June 15, 2011, at 4:31 AM PST
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  4. The Mugwump Inactive

    Are these companies publicly traded? Does anyone have a ticker symbol? BTW, Judith, thanks for the Noble Energy tip. It’s been good to me so far.

    • #4
    • June 15, 2011, at 4:46 AM PST
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  5. Israel P. Inactive

    The Arabs will claim it is their oil. Many Europeans will support this claim.

    Europe is not simply cowed by oil-dependency. They’d like Jew-dependency even less. How long do you you think it would be before we hear Europeans complaining about Jews getting rich off of Europeans? With hook-nosed cartoons dripping oil.

    Yes, this would be a good development for Israel. And for the US and our other real friends. But leave most of Europe out of the discussion please.

    • #5
    • June 15, 2011, at 4:59 AM PST
    • 1 like
  6. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Israel P.: The Arabs will claim it is their oil. Many Europeans will support this claim.

    Europe is not simply cowed by oil-dependency. They’d like Jew-dependency even less. How long do you you think it would be before we hear Europeans complaining about Jews getting rich off of Europeans? With hook-nosed cartoons dripping oil.

    Yes, this would be a good development for Israel. And for the US and our other real friends. But leave most of Europe out of the discussion please. · Jun 15 at 4:59am

    Edited on Jun 15 at 05:00 am

    You are far too hard on the Europeans. They are far more apt to fall prey to weakness and cowardice than to malice. Very few of them are spirited enough for that.

    • #6
    • June 15, 2011, at 5:05 AM PST
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  7. Liver Pate Inactive

    Well, not only am I happy for Israel but finally the Jewish conspiracy theorists can switch from Hollywood, the media and the banks, to claiming that the Jews now control the oil industry.

    • #7
    • June 15, 2011, at 5:08 AM PST
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  8. Jack Richman Member
    Paul A. Rahe: Can you imagine what it would mean if the Europeans were to look to Israel for their oil? · Jun 15 at 4:14am

    It will be a problem for some Europeans. Many Israeli agricultural products and consumer goods get labeled as emanating from Jordon or the “occupied” territories because those points of origin are perceived as more politically correct and worthy of support. But how do you “relabel” oil?

    Do you think the OPECers would give the Zionist entity a seat at the table?

    • #8
    • June 15, 2011, at 5:27 AM PST
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  9. michael kelley Inactive

    As the kids say……….awesome.

    He may be an angry God but boy, can He be Just!

    • #9
    • June 15, 2011, at 5:54 AM PST
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  10. ctruppi Inactive

    I think it was Golda Meir who said “Let me tell you something that we Israelis have against Moses. He took us 40 years through the desert in order to bring us to the one spot in the Middle East that has no oil.” Looks like Moses is having the last laugh – it will just require a bit more ingenuity than Joshua’s horns blowing at the walls of Jericho to take full advantage of the deposits. I have no doubt that Israel is up to the task. For the sake of Israel (and the US), I hope I’m right.

    • #10
    • June 15, 2011, at 6:22 AM PST
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  11. tabula rasa Member
    michael kelley: As the kids say……….awesome.

    He may be an angry God but boy, can He be Just! · Jun 15 at 5:54am

    And ironic. I think it’s why we love Him so much. He has a sense of humor.

    • #11
    • June 15, 2011, at 6:48 AM PST
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  12. Leith Inactive
    Judith Levy: – Both the Journal and Sun News point out that while oil shale extraction was once uneconomical, two factors have altered that picture: the oil price has gone way up, and the Israeli team has figured out a way of extracting the oil for about $35-40 a barrel.

    That would start to dismantle the Israel Divestment Campaigns.

    • #12
    • June 15, 2011, at 6:55 AM PST
    • Like
  13. Deleted Account Inactive

    Watch the anti-shale oil groups on the Left start to ramp up. It will just be one more component in things like this.

    • #13
    • June 15, 2011, at 7:39 AM PST
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  14. Liver Pate Inactive

    Israeli membership in OPEC?

    • #14
    • June 15, 2011, at 9:56 AM PST
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  15. John Lamoreaux Inactive
    michael kelley: As the kids say……….awesome.

    He may be an angry God but boy, can He be Just! · Jun 15 at 5:54am

    Israeli oil sword. Ground Zero Synagogue towering over the Ka’abah, to commemorate the victims of Saudi-funded terror. Israeli petro-dollars to export democracy.

    • #15
    • June 15, 2011, at 10:11 AM PST
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  16. Squishy Blue RINO Inactive
    John Marzan: Wonder how Obama would have treated this news if they found something similar in the US of A? · Jun 15 at 4:27am

    Or Brazil?

    • #16
    • June 15, 2011, at 11:31 AM PST
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  17. Squishy Blue RINO Inactive
    Paul A. Rahe
    Israel P.: The Arabs will claim it is their oil. Many Europeans will support this claim.

    Europe is not simply cowed by oil-dependency. They’d like Jew-dependency even less. How long do you you think it would be before we hear Europeans complaining about Jews getting rich off of Europeans? With hook-nosed cartoons dripping oil.

    Yes, this would be a good development for Israel. And for the US and our other real friends. But leave most of Europe out of the discussion please. · Jun 15 at 4:59am

    Edited on Jun 15 at 05:00 am

    You are far too hard on the Europeans. They are far more apt to fall prey to weakness and cowardice than to malice. Very few of them are spirited enough for that. · Jun 15 at 5:05am

    This is great news for the nation of Israel. I look forward to learning more about it.

    Dr. Rahe is being very diplomatic.

    Captain Aubrey would call them shy, and Groundskeeper Willie would put it this way.

    • #17
    • June 15, 2011, at 11:48 AM PST
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  18. Judith Levy Contributor
    Judith Levy Post author
    Albert Fuchs: Everyone is missing the most startling part of this story which is that a guy named Vinegar is an oil expert. · Jun 15 at 7:49pm

    I know; it’s wonderful!

    • #18
    • June 16, 2011, at 1:03 AM PST
    • 1 like
  19. Judith Levy Contributor
    Judith Levy Post author
    ~Paules: Are these companies publicly traded? Does anyone have a ticker symbol? BTW, Judith, thanks for the Noble Energy tip. It’s been good to me so far.

    IEI is privately owned, so we can’t get in, alas. Delighted to hear Noble’s doing you good! Excellent!

    • #19
    • June 16, 2011, at 1:14 AM PST
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  20. Judith Levy Contributor
    Judith Levy Post author

    ~Paules, it is possible to get a piece of the action, if a little obliquely. IEI is 89%-owned by Genie Energy, which is a subsidiary of IDT Corporation. IDT is traded on the Big Board under the symbol IDT.

    • #20
    • June 16, 2011, at 1:24 AM PST
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  21. Doctor Bean Thatcher

    Everyone is missing the most startling part of this story which is that a guy named Vinegar is an oil expert.

    • #21
    • June 16, 2011, at 7:49 AM PST
    • Like
  22. Palaeologus Inactive
    Albert Fuchs: Everyone is missing the most startling part of this story which is that a guy named Vinegar is an oil expert. · Jun 15 at 7:49pm

    That’s beautiful.

    • #22
    • June 16, 2011, at 8:19 AM PST
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  23. Paul DeRocco Member

    I get the feeling that we haven’t found but a small fraction of the extractable petroleum on the planet. Next year, they could discover huge oil or gas fields in some other novel form in Japan. Or Australia. Or Greenland. Or Antarctica.

    • #23
    • June 20, 2011, at 6:25 AM PST
    • Like