Israel discovers large quantities of oil
A giant oil deposit has been found in the southern Golan Heights region near the Israeli-Syrian border.
After more than a year of round-the-clock drilling, large amounts of oil have been found in the Golan Heights.
Estimates are that the amount of oil discovered will make Israel self sufficient for many years to come.
Globes quoted Afek Oil and Gas Chief Geologist Dr. Yuval Bartov as saying, "We are talking about a stratum which is 350 metres thick, and what is important is the thickness and the porosity.
"On average in the world, strata are 20-30 metres 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."
Large amounts of oil have thus far been found in three drilling attempts which have taken place in the southern Golan Heights. The potential for production is in the billions of barrels. Israel consumes about 100 million barrels of oil per year.
Although the existence of the oil is now proven fact, the critical phase involves checking how easily it can be extracted and whether this 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.
Just as Israel's offshore Mediterranean gas discoveries have created an entire energy industry, so the Golan oil find could also generate a new industry around it. But while the gas has been found dozens of kilometres from Israel, the Golan find is much closer.
The drilling in the Golan Heights has aroused fierce opposition from environmental groups and local residents who fear irreversible damage to the region's natural landscapes, flora and fauna. This is likely to make both potential extraction and production a more protracted process, lasting for many years.
Above and beyond the bureaucratic and environmental problems of pushing ahead with oil production, there are also the geopolitical considerations. The international community considers the Golan Heights, which was captured from Syria in 1967, as occupied territory and does not recognise Israeli sovereignty over the region.
Bartov said, "There is enormous excitement. It's a fantastic feeling. We came here thinking maybe yes or maybe no and now things are really happening."