The State Department said it intends to discuss with Israel its award of a permit to an American company to drill for oil in the southern Golan Heights.
Genie Energy, which has oil shale initiatives in Colorado and Israel, announced this week the award from the Israeli government for the exclusive petroleum exploration license in a 153 square mile area.
“The Company believes, based on its preliminary analysis and interpretation of existing geological data, that the newly issued license area may contain significant quantities of conventional oil and gas in relatively tight formations, the development of which would entail significantly different technical approaches and project timelines than the other projects,” Genie said in a statement. “Genie Energy intends to conduct an exploration program to further investigate the size and quality of the resource in the new license area.”
Oil permits in the region have been frozen for 20 years, when Israel and Syria were negotiating the future of this area annexed in the Six-Day War.
The move, a month before President Obama’s trip to the region, is likely to irk the Obama administration as it has accused Israel of provocative development on disputed territories.
“We are aware of press reports regarding the award and do not have any further information regarding the license,” the State Department said in a statement. “We intend to discuss this issue with the Israeli Government. We refer you to the Israeli Government for further information regarding the award.”