The old joke goes something like this: God gave us the one slice of paradise in the Arabian peninsula that ran bone dry when it came to black gold.
Or, did He?
Last week news broke that more than a year of constant drilling has finally proved successful. According to Afek Oil and Gas Chief Geologist Dr. Yuval Bartov, the strata discovered is ten times the size of an average strata of oil in the world marketplace. In other words, Jeb Clampett’s infamous strike would be a drop in the bucket compared to what Israelis have just tapped into, leading one to wonder if Israel would also be able to to start supplying allies currently relying on Arab and Russian stock. But, the strike isn’t without complications:
Three drillings have so far taken place in the southern Golan Heights which have found large reserves of oil. Potential production is dramatic –
billions of barrels, which will easily provide all Israel’s oil needs. Israel consumes 270,000 barrels of oil per day.
Although the existence of the oil in the ground is a fact, the critical phase now is to check how easily it can be extracted and whether it 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.
…The drilling on 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 any potential extraction from the ground and production a more protracted process lasting very 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 recognize Israeli sovereignty over the region.
As with everything else they’ve ever encountered, the odds are stacked against Israel when it comes to actually being able to tap into this goldmine. Which is why, of course, it’s a good thing the original startup nation has a history of unexpected victories on its side.