A major discovery may have a huge impact on Israel for many years to come.
Since 1967, Israel has controlled the mountainous region along the Syrian border known as the Golan Heights. These mountains were captured during the Six Day War, and provide Israel with a strategic buffer zone to protect the important agricultural communities in the Galilee below. Now Israel has even more reason to hold on to this area: oil.
Israel has relied on foreign oil imports from unfriendly neighbors ever since the nation was founded. The discovery of massive oil reserves in the Golan could change that and provide Israel with economic security through energy independence for decades to come. This discovery follows the announcement of huge natural gas fields off the coast of Israel, but development of those sites has been stalled by internal political red tape.
Afek Oil and Gas recently discovered three large oil fields in the Golan after beginning exploration there last December.
“We are talking about a layer which is 350 meters thick,” Dr. Yuval Bartov, the chief geologist of Afek Oil and Gas told Channel 2 News. “On average in the world strata are 20-30 meters thick, so this is 10 times as large as that, so we are talking about significant quantities.”
Afek, a subsidiary of American company, Genie Energy, estimates that oil production at the site could potentially reach billions of barrels. Currently Israel consumes 270,000 barrels of oil a day.
The company has now requested permission to drill an additional 10 wells.
While the oil find is confirmed, exact quantities, quality, and the cost-effectiveness of extracting the oil have still to be investigated. Experts in the field have many concerns. Since Israel was founded, some 530 exploratory wells have been drilled across the country but none of them has turned up oil that can be commercially exploited.