Excitement has once again focused on Israeli oil exploration with the reported discovery of marketable quantities of crude oil on the shores of the Dead Sea. While not yet a ‘gusher’, the prospects at the Zuk Tamrur 3 drilling site, indicate a possible find that could eventually result in several million barrels of ‘Texas Tea’. The explorations are being carried out by a partnership between the American headquartered Ginko Oil and Gas Exploration Co., and the Lapidoth Israel Oil Prospectors, who have been exploring for oil in the Dead Sea area for more than thirty years. While Ginko-Lapidoth representatives note that this latest find “isn’t like Saudi Arabia” it could be substantial enough to at least rival the Heletz wells near Ashkelon, which have pumped more than six million barrels of crude.
To most of us, this may seem like a lot of oil; especially with prices for crude oil at nearly all time highs of nearly $60 per barrel. An earlier oil find at the original Zuk Tamrur 3 drilling site, brought in over 170,000 barrels before it was closed in the early 1990’s when crude oil prices dropped, making production costs unsuitable. With an daily oil consumption of around 220,000 barrels per day, however, even several million barrels is a mere “drop in the bucket” in regards to the country’s overall oil needs. The geological location of this new find, together with current oil prices, give signs for optimism; although the ideal situation would to be in a position to eventually become an oil exporting country, like Egypt.
The results of this find has encouraged, energy companies like Delek Oil Company, owned by billionaire Yitzhak Tshuvah, to become involved as well. Delek, though it’s subsidiaries, Delek Drilling Ltd and Avner Oil Exploration, have agreed to purchase a 50% interest in a new Zuk Tamrur 4 drilling venture, from which an estimated volume of up to 100 million barrels will eventually be pumped, at a rate of around 2,000 barrels per day. For those who aren’t aware of it, a barrel of crude oil contains 50 U.S. gallons or 190 liters. The Zuk Tamrur 4 site is about 2 km north of the re-opened Zuk Tamrur 3 site.
Dr. Doron Gal, an energy specialist at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzelia, noted that even with a larger oil find (such as from the Zuk Tamrur 4 site), it still will not change the balance of power in the region in regards to current Arab oil reserves. “What influences world oil needs are oil hungry countries like China, Europe, and the U.S.A.”, Gal commented recently.
In addition to oil, commercial quantities of natural gas have also been found near the Negev city of Arad, as well in the Eastern Mediterranean, off Gaza and Haifa.