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Protect the Levant in Case Egypt Flakes on Oil

IAF drones are reportedly patrolling the vast blue above the country’s gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea on charge of security concerns, citing Hezbollah. Lebanon has been complaining in a world forum about the Leviathan (16 trillion cubic feet) and Tamar (estimated 8.7 trillion cubic feet) oil wells, of the enormous Levant Basin Province. Together, the two Israeli sites are twice as big as the British fields in the North Sea, with an estimated value of $300 billion, enough gas for 50-70 years of domestic consumption.

It should be noted that recently Cyprus, inspired by Israel’s discovery, started looking for oil off of their shores, however, Turkey threatened Cyprus over these actions. Ahmet Davutoglu a senior Turkish official said that they would show the “necessary response” if the country goes ahead with the marine oil dig. For years, Cyprus and Turkey have been in dispute over who owns the northern region of Cyprus, with the Turkish government claiming the region as theirs and threatening military action time and again.

Because Israel and Lebanon have no maritime border, Lebanon claims the Levant Basin as its own. The Hezbollah, which constitutes much of the Lebanese military, despite contrary claims has threatened to use force to protect the natural wealth it insists belong to Lebanon. Hopefully it would not result in a situation like the Israel-Lebanon War of 2006.

Hassan Nasrallah said:

“We warn Israel not to touch this area or try to steal Lebanon’s resources…Those who harm our installations will have their own installations harmed,” he said.

Israel says it would use force to defend its gas fields should an attack by Hezbollah happen.

Usually, countries negotiate their maritime border, as did Israel and Cyprus, several months ago.

Because the Arab League refuses to supply gas to Israel, the Jewish Country, who imports coal, mainly from South Africa, is starving for fossil fuels. Egypt is the only nation which supplies gas to the Jewish Country, but in a post-Mubarak situation this is a fragile reality. The Arab gas line supplies Egyptian gas to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, and a separate feed for Israel

When the ousting of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt went down last spring, Israel began to sweat. On February 5th, an explosion happened near the El Arish compressor station which supplies Israel and Jordan, and as a result, the supply was temporarily halted.

On April 27 an explosion at the pipeline near Al-Sabil village in the El-Arish region once again halted natural gas supplies to Israel and Jordan. And on July 4th, an explosion near Nagah, in the Sinai Peninsula halted gas to Jordan and the Jewish Country once again. These incidents are behind a failed attempt to blow up a pipeline supplying the Jewish Country, last March.

Jordan’s Petroleum Woes

You probably thought that you would not live long enough to hear of a nation in the Middle East complain of not having enough oil to supply its population. Well, this is exactly what the Kingdom of Jordan in the Middle East is facing today.

Unlike many other Arab states and Kingdoms in the Middle East, Jordan does not have its own natural source of oil. It therefore imports natural gas and heavy oil from Egypt. However, supplies from Egypt were recently disrupted following an attack on the Arab Gas Pipeline that occurred last month. This attack marked the second Sinai explosion in a period of one month. According to officials in Cairo, the repairs will take between 7 and 10 days to complete.

This however, is unacceptable for Jordan, which relies on Egypt’s natural gas and heavy oil supplies for 80% of its energy production. The Kingdom reports having experienced a loss of up to JD637 million in the first half of this year as a result of the continuous disruptions in the supply of oil from Egypt. The Kingdom is currently purchasing oil from the international market at a cost of more than $3 million per day.


The current high cost of fuel in the international market and the continuous disruptions in oil supplies has led officials from Amman to seek alternative sources of energy. Although the Kingdom is set to receive oil from neighboring Iraq at an $88 per tonne discount, the Kingdom officials still continue to seek alternative sources of energy that are more reliable and pocket friendly.

This is good news for various energy firms around the globe. Plans are underway for the construction of an offshore terminal for liquefied gas at the Port of Aqaba. Construction is set to begin in 2013 and various international firms have expressed interest in the project including Royal Dutch Shell, Al Fijr, Lemont/General Electric and British Petroleum. If all goes according to plan, the Kingdom would greatly reduce its current 30 000 tonnes a day consumption of heavy oil.

The country’s switch to alternative power will also see a reduction in government spending. Jordan currently spends one-fifth of its gross domestic product on the importation of energy to meet the nation’s needs. The country currently imports 97% of its energy. Amman officials are also exploring energy sources such as nuclear power, wind, solar and oil shale.

Levant Basin Province Has Gas

According to the humble estimate of a US energy industry expert, international companies might soon join exploration efforts for oil and gas in the Holy Land.
Fred Zeidman told Globes website:

“It is quite likely that international firms will join the exploration efforts on Israeli territory; this comes one year after the ‘Tamar’ and ‘Dalit’ discoveries in the Mediterranean Sea. One international firm has already embarked on the could-be gold rush: Noble Energy, which was the partner of Delek and Isramco in their respective discoveries”.

Two of Israel’s largest financial groups: Nochi Dankner‘s IDB group and Ofer Nimrodi’s Israel Land Development too have entered the sector already.

Zeidman said:

“It happens all the time…We see in the US that the moment a company discovers oil or gas that can be transported, there’s a crazy rush to the region by other companies, and that’s a function of the size of the reserves found. Around the world, as soon as Noble goes to a place, many other companies follow in its wake. The prospects here are amazing, and I have no doubt that we’ll see an economic boom, and a rush of more companies to Israel from overseas following Noble.”

Levant Basin Province

A report done by the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that 122 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas are in the Levant Basin Province in the eastern region of the Mediterranean.

This area includes the coastal areas near Israel, Lebanon and Syria.

Brenda Pierce, a USGS Energy Resources Program Coordinator said:

“The Levant Basin Province is comparable to some of the other large provinces around the world…Its gas resources are bigger than anything we have assessed in the United States.”

The Levant Basin Province holds an estimated 1.7 billion barrels of undiscovered oil, which can be easily recovered with existing technology. This marks the first time the USGS has assessed the Levant Basin area for extractable resources.

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