Friday, April 22, 2016

Fwd: ISRAEL LIVES April 22, 2016 14 Nissan, 5776 Hashem's greatest gifts to his people, the Chumash, Freedom & Independence

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Subject: ISRAEL LIVES April 22, 2016 14 Nissan, 5776 Hashem's greatest gifts to his people, the Chumash, Freedom & Independence
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ISRAEL LIVES  April 22, 2016  14 Nissan, 5776  Hashem's greatest gifts to his people, the Chumash, Freedom & Independence

Firstborn males over the age of Bar Mitzvah (13) are obligated to fast on the 14th of Nissan, in recognition of the fact that during the "Plague of the Firstborn" (which occurred at midnight of Nissan 15) G-d "passed over" the Jewish firstborn when He killed all firstborn Egyptians. If there is a firstborn male in the family under 13, the obligation to fast rests with the   father.

When the Holy Temple stood in Jerusalem, the Passover offering was brought there on the afternoon of Nissan 14. Today it is commemorated by our recitation of the "Order of the Passover Offering" this afternoon, by the "shankbone" placed on the seder plate this evening, and the afikoman -- a portion of matzah eaten in its stead at the end of the seder meal.

IDF RESCUES LONDON FAMILY HELD AT GUNPOINT BY JORDANIAN NAVY DURING VACATION IN EILAT  A Jewish student from Britain recounted on social media the terror of being held at gunpoint by the Jordanian Navy on Sunday, before being rescued by Israeli soldiers.
"After coming to Israel more or less every year of my life I never thought that I would ever experience what me and my family went through today," Ellie Novack, a fashion student at Leeds College of Art, posted on Facebook.
The London native said she and her family rented a boat in Eilat, a resort town in southern Israel, to enjoy some water sports. But they apparently sailed too far from shore.
"Without any warning we regretfully got too close to the Jordanian water and were held hostage by a group of 10 Jordanian soldiers," she said. "Although a soldier is most definitely not the correct word to describe these animals by." (Algemeiner)

Sunday, May 22, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Jerusalem Post Annual Conference
At the Marriott Marquis Hotel, NYC (West 47 St. & Broadway)

June 1-June 8, 2016 AFSI will be returning to Israel to celebrate Yom Yerushalayim. Those of you who were unable to join us on this Fall trip should start planning ahead for the Spring. Don't miss out on a life-changing experience.   Celebrate Yom Yerushalayim in Israel with AFSI.   NON-REFUNDABLE PAYMENT DUE NOW  (Itinerary)

Reporting takes a bit of imagination, and a germ of an idea.  I knew Bibi was meeting with Putin.  I googled: Netanyahu, Putin, Gas on Israeli Mediterranean Shelf (that's a valid geologic designation!! perfect 'land accretion' for our Nation.  The very phrase 'Israeli Mediterranean Shelf', which I had read earlier in the day thrilled me, and had 'stuck' in my brain.  Finished prepping the apartment, I got down to researching the day's ideas and found:
2-RUSSIA AND ISRAEL IN THE CHANGING MIDDLE EAST CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS. Zvi Magen and Vitaly Naumkin, Editors. Memorandum No. 129 July 2013
As America defaulted its role in the Middle East, it saved Putin from might have been Putin's Disaster.  Instead, from Russian clients I hear a new bravado, potentially freightening.  Reduced to beggary by Ronald Reagan, the USSR is on its way to being reconstituted, at the very least, Russian PRIDE has been reawakened as Putin's Russia saw its opportunity and 'moved in'.  The 'Obama's Media' has allowed Putin's machinations to go unnoted.  Clearly, Israel's attention is sharper.  The following conference covering matters  between Russia and Israel occurred 3 years ago.

INSTITUTE FOR NATIONAL SECURITY STUDIES (a public benefit company) / 40 Haim Levanon Street/ POB 39950 / Ramat Aviv Tel Aviv 6997556   Tel. +972-3-640-0400 / E-mail:
Part I: Middle East Challenges
Israel's National Security Challenges 2012-2013: The Need for Proactive Policy Amos Yadlin p.11 Common Interests and Differences in the Changing Middle East Vitaly Naumkin p.23
Russia and the Challenges of a Changing Middle East: A View from Israel Zvi Magen p.27
Russia's Interests in the Middle East: A New Context Irina Zvyagelskaya p.33
The Civil War in Syria: Regional and Global Issues Alexander Aksenyonok p.39
Will Turkey Enter the Eurasian Union? Alexander Mineyev p.45
Part II: Russia-Israel Relations Russian-Israeli Relations, Past, Present, and Future:
A View from Moscow Tatyana Karasova p.51
A Look at Israeli-Russian Relations Yaakov Livne p.57
The Social Aspect of Israeli-Russian Relations: A View from Jerusalem Vladimir (Zeev) Khanin p.65
Part III: Economic Aspects of the Bilateral Relations Bilateral Economic Relations:
Main Trends, Forms, and Areas of Business Cooperation Sergey Oulin p.81
Russian's Economy and Trade Relations with Israel Michael Khoury p.87
Participation of Russian Energy Companies in the Development of Israel's Natural Gas Discoveries Dmitry Maryasis p.93
Russia as a Possible Partner in Developing Israeli Gas Discoveries Avinoam Idan p.103
3-ISRAEL - OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION - An overview - 'Kevel' over the wonderful names of the wells!!
4-ISRAEL'S ENERGY FUTURE  Just how well situated is the Jewish State compared to its aggressive
Nobel Energy hasn't rested on its laurels after Leviathan. It has identified  12 more prospects with 20 trillion cubic feet of potential gas in the territory covered by its licenses. And all of the fields mentioned have substantial quantities of oil waiting to be developed as well. The best estimate for the Gabriella field alone is 277 million barrels of oil.
There is disagreement within the Israeli cabinet and Knesset over how to develop the project without giving its shareholders excessive pricing and market power.
5-ITALIAN GAS FIND PROMISES SEA CHANGE IN THE MED  It is rare to find an oil or gasfield so big it can transform an economy. Last week Eni, the Italian energy group, did just that, trumpeting the discovery of an underwater "supergiant" off Egypt it says could be one of the world's biggest gas fields.

And so it goes.  One has to wonder what wealth is trapped under the Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic, Antartic.  Here again, our present government is tampering with the Law of the Seas.

1>Israel-Egypt Relations: Background & Overview of Peace Treaty
Mitchell Bard
Israel-Egypt Relations:
On March 26, 1979, sixteen months after Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's dramatic visit to Jerusalem, Israel and Egypt - long standing enemies - signed a peace treaty on the lawn of the White House in Washington, DC.
Sadat Speaks at the Israeli Parliament
This peace drive, however, did not begin with Sadat's trip to Israel, but rather came only after more than a half-century of efforts by early Zionist and Israeli leaders to negotiate peace with the Arabs. Every government in Israel's history had declared its desire to live in peace with all Arab states, including those who had ruthlessly attacked the Jewish state in 1948 and again in 1967 and 1973.
Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, like Sadat, was willing to go the extra mile to achieve peace. Although he faced intense opposition from within his Likud Party, Begin froze Israeli settlements in the West Bank to facilitate the progress of negotiations. Despite the Carter Administration's tilt toward Egypt during the talks, Begin remained determined to continue the peace process. In the end, he agreed to return to Egypt the strategically critical Sinai - 91 percent of the territory won by Israel during the Six-Day War - in exchange for Sadat's promise to make peace.
In recognition of his willingness to join Sadat in making compromises for peace, Begin shared the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize with the Egyptian leader.
Risks for Peace
Israel - which had repeatedly been the target of shipping blockades, military assaults and terrorist attacks staged from the Sinai - made far greater economic and strategic sacrifices in giving up the region than Egypt did in normalizing relations with Israel.
While it received additional U.S. aid for withdrawing, Israel gave up much of its strategic depth in the Sinai, returning the area to a neighbor that had repeatedly used it as a launching point for attacks. Israel also relinquished direct control of its shipping lanes to and from Eilat, 1,000 miles of roadways, homes, factories, hotels, health facilities and agricultural villages.
Because Egypt insisted that Jewish civilians leave the Sinai, more than 7,000 Israelis were uprooted from their homes and businesses, which they had spent years building in the desert. This was a physically and emotionally wrenching experience, particularly for the residents of Yamit, who had to be forcibly removed by soldiers from their homes.
Map of Israeli Withdrawal from Sinai
Israel also lost electronic early-warning stations situated on Sinai mountaintops that provided data on military movement on the western side of the Suez Canal, as well as the areas near the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Eilat, which were vital to defending against an attack from the east. Israel was   forced to relocate more than 170 military installations, airfields and army bases after it withdrew.
By turning over the Sinai to Egypt, Israel may have given up its only chance to become energy-independent. The Alma oil field, developed by Nobel Energy in the southern Sinai, was transferred to Egypt in November 1979.   Israel gave up this field, which had become the country's largest single source of energy, supplying half the country's energy needs. Israel, which estimated the value of untapped reserves in the Alma field at $100 billion, had projected that continued development there would make the country self-sufficient in energy by 1990.  Nobel energy has continued to prospect in Israel and the Israeli Shelf in the Mediteranean, presently developing the Levanthian and appendant sites, a huge energy rich site on Israeli territory in the Mediterranean.
Israel also agreed to end military rule in the West Bank and Gaza, withdraw its troops from certain parts of the territories and work toward Palestinian autonomy. The Begin government did this though no Palestinian Arab willing to recognize Israel came forward to speak on behalf of residents of the territories.  It directly lead in 2008 to the need for a final expulsion of the 22 Israeli communities of Kush Katif in Gaza, largely comprised Israelis who had fled the Sinai after it was given to Egypt in the 1978 Camp David Accord - an Accord engineered by Pres. Carter, that brought the shared Nobel Peace prize to Israeli PM Begin and Egyptian Pres. Sadat.
In 1988, the Jewish State relinquished Taba - a resort built by Israel in what had been a barren desert area near Eilat - to Egypt. Taba's status had not been resolved by the Camp David Accords. When an international arbitration panel ruled in Cairo's favor on September 29, 1988, Israel turned the town over to Egypt.
More than three decades have passed since Israel and Egypt signed their treaty and peace has been maintained. Still, it is regarded as a cold peace because relations between the two peoples have not significantly improved and, in the wake of the Arab Spring national uprising in 2011, had even  deteriorated further. Under former president Hosni Mubarak, the government-controlled press and the intellectual elite remained hostile toward Israel and anti-Semitic articles and cartoons were widely published in newspapers and magazines. Mubarak was an active participant   in the peace process, though more often than not he contributed to the hardening of Arab positions toward Israel. He also refused to visit Israel with the lone exception being to attend the funeral of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Under Pres. Obama's influence, Pres. Mubarak was removed from office, replaced by Muslim Brotherhood front, Morsi.  Morsi, after a brief reign of terror against Egyptian Copts and all who opposed the Muslim Brotherhood, was in turn replaced by the popular military leader, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi who won 96% of the vote on June 2014.  He
has called for a "religious revolution," directly challenging Muslim leaders to help in the fight against extremism and is working closely with Israel, hopefully to mutual gain.
Avinoam Idan*
Dr. Avinoam Idan, who teaches at the University of Haifa in the Energy Studies Program and in the School for Political Science, is a political geographer focusing on the post-Soviet space, including Russia's energy policy and the relationship between energy and foreign policy.
The visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Israel in June 2012 and his participation in dedicating the monument marking the Red Army's victory over the Nazis reflected the special place of the Second World War in Russia's heritage and its connection to the Jewish people. However, the focus and main purpose of the visit was President Putin's particular interest in including Gazprom, the Russian energy giant, as well as Russia itself in the development of Israel's gas industry. The Russian President's visit was the culmination of long term Russian activity directed at enabling Gazprom to enter this field. President Putin's interest in this area stems not from economic considerations, but from political interests focused on giving Russia a position of influence within the Israeli gas industry, and thus, strategic leverage on issues critical to Israel's national security. To ensure an intelligent decision making process in Israel on the development of gas discoveries - an issue of national importance - it is important to understand Russia's special interest in Israeli gas. Most of the discussion about the gas discoveries in Israel focuses on the economic advantages for the local energy industry and the benefits that will accrue from exporting the gas and receiving the revenues. The discussion also focuses on the identity of the foreign partner that will be included in the Israeli gas industry. The conclusions of the Tzemach Committee, which examined government policy on the natural gas industry in Israel, were Dr. Avinoam Idan, who teaches at the University of Haifa in the Energy Studies Program and in the School for Political Science, is a political geographer focusing on the post-Soviet space, including Russia's energy policy and the relationship between energy and foreign policy.
Avinoam Idan submitted to the government in September 2012. The committee noted that "full and efficient development of the natural gas industry and the export infrastructures in particular will more likely be carried out if a leading international player has a presence in Israel, with knowledge and experience in efficient development of the natural gas industry.We recommend that the necessary steps be taken with the goal of encouraging their entry into the Israeli economy."1 However, the committee's recommendations do not address the need to examine the identity of the leading foreign player on the basis of political parameters. Russia's special interest in Israeli gas is presented as stemming from the economic advantages of Gazprom's entry into the development of gas discoveries in Israel. However, an examination of data on gas reserves discovered off the coast of Israel and the comparison of these reserves with the scope of production and export of Russian gas challenge this interpretation. Israel's total supply of recently discovered natural gas is 280 bcm of proven reserves, with another 520 bcm of contingent resources (reserves that are less recoverable and whose production depends on various conditions). This is a generous assessment, as the accepted practice is to consider the potential of proven reserves only. Even if we consider the optimistic assessments and do not engage in a discussion of the method of calculating Israel's gas reserves, as the Tzemach Committee did (in contrast to standard practice elsewhere), the total of Israeli gas reserves according to the optimistic scenario is some 800 bcm. Given the government's apparent intention of allocating some 450 bcm for use in the local market over a twenty-five-year period, the balance of Israeli natural gas intended for export is on the order of up to 350 bcm only. Russia has the largest gas reserves in the world, with proven reserves of 47,570 bcm1. It is also the largest gas producer and exporter in the world, in addition to being the largest producer of oil. Russia's production of natural gas in 2011 was 669 bcm, and its export of natural gas that year was 204 bcm. Thirty-five percent of Russia's total export of natural gas is designated for the Commonwealth of Independent States. Seventy percent of gas exports not intended for the countries of the former Soviet Union are designated for Europe. Most of Russia's natural gas exports to Western Europe are to Germany, Turkey, and Italy.2. If we compare the extent of Russia's natural gas reserves, gas production, and gas exports to Israel's gas reserves, we see that the entire export potential of Israeli gas reaches only slightly more than two years of Russian gas exports to Europe, and it is less than two years' worth of total Russian gas exports.3.

Largest Proven Natural Gas Reserves Holders, 2012 trillion cubic feet
States with Largest Natural Gas Reserves Source: US Energy Information Administration, Country Analysis - Russia; taken from Oil and Gas Journal, 2012
The gas reserves of Algeria, Nigeria, Venezuela, UAE, Turkmenistan, USA. & Saudia Arabia together barely exceed the gas reserves of Russia.  Only Qatar (1/2 Russia's reserve) and Iran (3/4's Russia's reserve) have significant gas reserves (a graph can be seen in the printed article)
The size of Israel's gas reserves makes it a marginal player in the world energy market, in Russia's view as well. As Russia is the largest producer and exporter of gas in the world and possesses about a quarter of the world's total natural gas reserves, Russia's special interest in Israeli gas is not based on economic logic but on political considerations. Natural resources in general and energy resources in particular are viewed by the Russian government as a means of establishing Russia's standing as a major power. This approach was expressed by President Putin as long ago as 1997, in a thesis he submitted to the Saint Petersburg Mining Institute and in an article based on the thesis that was published in 1999 and translated into English in 2006. 4.
Putin advocates restoring the country's control over natural resources as the most effective way to restore Russia to its status as a major energy power and a superpower. He believes it is important to restore the country's control over large Russian energy companies. According to Putin, regardless of the question of who owns the natural resources, and more specifically the mineral (energy) resources, the Algeria Nigeria Venezuela United Arab Emirates Turkmenistan United States Saudi Arabia Qatar Iran Russia 0 500 1000 1500 2000 106 I Avinoam Idan state has the right to control the process of their development and use, while acting in accordance with the company's interests. 5.
Following President Putin's success in pushing out the oligarchs and establishing the Kremlin's control over the country's energy resources, the Russian energy giant Gazprom, which is under government control, has served as an effective arm of the government in promoting strategic goals through Russia's global operations. Bringing in Gazprom as the leading international player in the development of Israel's gas industry means giving Russia a position of influence - conceivably one that includes control over Israel's gas exports and possibly even control over the local gas industry, if Gazprom is involved in building infrastructures to transport the gas from the marine gas fields to the Israeli market. According to various reports on the issue, this possibility is among those being examined. As a result of the discovery of gas, natural gas is expected to become Israel's main source of energy in the coming years. The plan is to transform Israel's economy to massive use of gas, which will constitute more than 60 percent of all sources of energy. In addition, Israel is expected to enjoy revenues from the natural gas that is exported. Natural gas will therefore become a factor of major importance in the security of Israel's energy supply, and as such, an essential element of Israel's national security. Because of the importance of natural gas to Israel, the decision making process regarding cooperation with a leading international player to develop gas discoveries must take into account political aspects of the international player's profile in addition to economic, business, or technological issues. This is especially important when the international player is a company considered to be an arm of a foreign government, such as Gazprom. The political issues should be foremost in the decision making process regarding whether to allow Gazprom's involvement in developing the Israeli gas industry. When considering Gazprom's integration, it is important not to view it in isolation but to look at the larger picture of relations between Israel and Russia. Israel's relations with Russia are multifaceted. Along with the common cultural denominator, which has grown stronger in the wake of the large wave of Russian immigration to Israel in the 1990s, relations between the two countries were shaped over the years by the East-West configuration and Israel's place in it, along with Russia's longstanding support for countries that Israel saw as its adversaries. Regional changes following the "Arab Israeli Gas Discoveries I 107 Spring" are creating new circumstances that ostensibly allow the dialogue between the two countries to deviate from the rigid frameworks of the past. 6.
However, it is important to view Russia's entry into the development of Israeli gas not as a stand-alone issue, rather as an important element in the overall picture of relations between the two states. Therefore, Israeli decision making on this issue should be viewed first and foremost as a strategic political decision. Gazprom's connection to the Russian government and the government's control of the company, along with the government's method of operation, would actually mean giving a foreign government a key position that affects an essential Israeli national interest. It is also important that Israeli decision makers view the issue of gas as one of long term strategic importance, and that in the dialogue with Russia, natural gas not be considered a lever through which or in exchange for which it can seek an immediate return while entrusting Israel's long term national security to a foreign country. A comprehensive and continuous political dialogue as well as the removal of long term obstacles between the two states is a necessary precondition for allowing the entry of a leading international player into the development of natural gas discoveries in Israel. As long as this condition has not been met, it is premature and inappropriate to consider bringing a leading Russian player into a key position of influence over the Israeli gas industry.
Notes: 1. Recommendations of the committee to examine government policy on the subject of the natural gas industry in Israel, September 2012, p. 19. 2. US Energy Information Administration, Country Analysis-Russia, September 2012,, accessed January 14, 2013. 3. Ibid. 4. Harley Balzer, "Vladimir Putin's Academic Writings and Russian Natural Resource Policy," Problems of Post-Communism 53, no. 1 (2006): 48-54. 5. Ibid., p. 52. 6. See also Zvi Magen, "Russia and the Middle East: Policy Challenges," Memorandum No. 118 (Tel Aviv: Institute for National Security Studies, 2012).
For decades, Israel has been a poor man in the oil-rich Middle East. Now, geologists and drillers insist that Israel may one day swim in its own oil and natural gas.
Israel's oil exploration began in 1947 before the country existed. It seemed obvious that to achieve true independence, a country must supply its own energy needs without reliance on foreign entities. Eight years later in 1955, the Lapidoth Company discovered Israel's first oil well in the Cheletz area south of Ashkelon. The excitement was overwhelming, inspiring a New York radio commentator to announce, "The Land of Milk and Honey is now flowing with oil; the riches of Arabia have come to tiny Israel."
Nothing much happened until one week in 1962 when drillers at the Cheletz field thought they had hit a bonanza as their drill biting one hundred feet beneath the surface suddenly dropped six to eight feet into a subterranean cave. Oil is usually found in minute pores between sand grains and finding an entire cavern of oil was almost unheard of. This led an American engineer to suggest that the well might produce three to four thousand barrels a day. And if oil like this location extended in several directions, he added, there might be enough oil here to serve all Israel's energy requirements. Alas, after a few days of extraction the oil in the cave petered out and was replaced by water. In reality, the cavity contained a lake of water topped with a thin film of oil.
After the investment of six oil rigs, the company concluded that the Cheletz field was insignificant and that its tiny reserve of fourteen million barrels barely enough to keep Israel's lights burning for four months. Since that time things haven't improved much on Israel's mainland. 410 oil wells drilled everywhere have turned up skinny pickings.
Israel's hopes for oil sufficiency soared in 1967 with the capture of Egypt's Abud Rudeis oil fields in the Sinai Peninsular. From 1967 to 1975, the national company Netevei Neft supplied almost 65% of Israel oil requirements from the captured fields. To provide housing for workers and technicians, Israel established a desert village in the area replete with preschool nursery and infant care.
But the 1973 war put a stop to the glut; Israeli was forced to return the Abu Rudeis fields in November 1975. Then hopes ran high with the development of the Alma oilfield in southern Sinai that was estimated to hold a hundred billion dollars of oil reserves. These hopes too were dashed by the 1979 peace agreement with Anwar Sadat that returned the Sinai to Egypt.
Bible Inspired Drilling - Israel's search for oil includes four unusual schemes inspired by verses in the Chumash.
The first incident occurred in the early 60s when Californian fundamentalist Wesley Hancock applied for a license to drill for oil in Israel's Carmel mountain range at Haifa. His logic was threefold. First, this area was part of the territory of the tribe of Asher who had been promised he would dip his foot in oil. Secondly, he figured, if Eliyohu made water burn during his conflict with the prophets of Baal, wouldn't it have helped if a little natural petroleum was mixed in. Third, he had received a sign from heaven. This happened on his way to a meeting in Denver, Colorado, when his elevator stopped at the wrong floor and he entered an office adorned with the photo of an oil rig in Israel. For him, this was reason enough to head for Israel and get to work.
Israel issued Hancock's brand new Asher Oil Company with a license and he sank a million dollars into drilling two holes in the region. Both were bone dry. He was preparing to drill a third hole when his fiancé gave him an ultimatum: "Either marry me and stay in California, or continue fulfilling prophecies." Wesley chose the first course, effectively putting a stop to his oil schemes.
The second verse involved story began in 1981 when Texas oilman, Andy SoRelle, interpreted the dip his foot in oil verse as hinting at the southern region of Asher's territory. He began drilling south of Haifa. Ten months later after the expenditure of six million dollars his drill reached 17,296 deep but hitting nary a drop of oil. Undeterred, he secured the use of Israel's biggest rig and sank another three million dollars into delving further down at the cost of $23,000 a day. Complications halted his efforts at the depth of 21,428 feet - over four miles underground.
The third verse inspired oil venture involved the Givot Olam company founded by the Torah observant Toviah Luskin, a Russian born geologist working in Australia. He was inspired by Menashe and Efraim's blessing that included the choicest gifts of the ancient mountains and the fruitfulness of the everlasting hills (givot olam). Coming across a 1988 oil report titled, "Hydrocarbon Potential of Israel, Highlights of Basin Analysis, 1988; Prepared for State of Israel, Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure," he was amazed to discover that its conclusions coincided precisely with his geological interpretation of the above verse.
Arguing that the discovery of oil would help alleviate Israel's one billion dollar annual import of petroleum Luskin began investigating the Rosh Ayin area in the tribe of Menashe's historical domain territory and hit on a spot now known as the Meged field.
"It took us a while to explore and we had plenty of dry holes," he said, "but today the Meged field is producing oil, and our company, Givot Olam, which has the licenses to explore and produce in the field, is profitable."
His company boasts that "Givot Olam is the first and only oil and gas exploration firm to have discovered substantial commercial quantities of oil onshore Israel in the past 50 years during its exploring for oil and gas since 1992. Givot Olam is currently in the planning stages of the multi-well development and production of the Meged Oil Field."
Although the Meged field only has proved reserves of 1.5 million barrels, Luskin believes it contains 200 million barrels or enough to supply ten percent of Israel's energy needs. But he complains that with the growing of Israel's oil producing potential the government has begun hiking the cost of licenses for oil and gas exploration retroactively. He calls this "state sponsored theft."
A fourth verse based company is the Zion Oil company founded by John M. Brown. Twenty years ago, he was struck by the many Torah verses hinting at oil: Yosef was blessed with the things of the deep beneath, Asher will dip his foot in oil, and suchlike. This led him to begin a search in Megido south of Haifa and since then he has widened his search over an area of approximately 327,000 acres between Haifa and Tel Aviv.
Sea and Shale
So far, Israel's landlocked oil discoveries are insignificant. Israel's territorial waters are more promising with an estimated five billion barrels of recoverable oil. But the country is pinning more hopes on offshore gas. Since 1988 Israel discovered trillions of cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas off Israel and Gaza and by 2005 it was producing 25 million cubic feet a year. Gas is being delivered to Israel along a sea to shore pipeline from the Mari and Noa fields that have reserves of 1.7 Tcf. Even Palestinian Gaza has a gas field of an estimated 1.2 Tcf.
Potentially far greater than Israel's gas reserves are huge oil shale reserves buried beneath 15% of its stones and soil. After America and China, Israel seems to have the third largest reserve in the world to the tune of 250 billion barrels. This is equal to the reserves of Saudi Arabia, albeit far more difficult to extract.
Trapped in sedimentary rocks, oil shale is more expensive and environmentally damaging to extract than regular oil, but if oil prices rise it is waiting and ready in vast quantity. By way of historical precedent, following the 1973 oil crisis, world production of oil shale shot up to 46 million tonnes per annum; cheaper petroleum prices in the 80s pulled the production down to 16 million tonnes in 2000.
Oil shale is already used extensively in Brazil, China, Estonia and to a lesser extent in Germany and Russia. Since 1978, Israel utilized shale oil at a small test pilot in the Negev that used half a million tons of oil shale annually extracted from a nearby open mine. Much of the mountains of waste products generated was used to produce cat litter. Israel Chemicals closed the plant in April, 2011, explaining that its meager profits did not justify the damage it was wreaking on the environment.
Indeed, oil-shale extraction has great potential for wrecking the environment, damaging biological and recreational value of land and the ecosystems, generating mountains of waste material, and producing more greenhouse gases than conventional oil and other atmospheric poisons. It also consumes seas of water. In 2002, the oil shale-fired power industry used 91% of the water consumed in Estonia. That is why the Greenpeace organization adamantly opposes the processing of oil shale in Israel. Some months ago I became personally involved with the issue. While walking down the main road of Yerushalayim's German Colony neighborhood I came across two Greenpeace activists rousing people to the dangers of a proposed project to utilize oil shale in the Abdullah-Elah valley region near Beit Shemesh, a town with a rapidly growing Torah community. They explained to me that the process of processing oil shale releases environmentally hazardous poisonous gases and water pollutants and argued that specialty lenient government regulations make it easy for companies to circumvent public opposition. In return for my sympathetic ear I received a nifty key ring bearing the organization's name.
However, a competing environmental organization, Greenspirit, claims that it is a mistake to throw out the baby with the bathwater and insists that solutions can be found.  In Canada, for example, every inch of land damaged through extracting oil from its oil sands must be reclaimed as good as new. Hopefully, by finding a way to navigate between the raindrops, Israel will be able to have her cake and eat it. By utilizing natural gas and oil shale, Israel may be able to bid farewell to her unwanted dependency on foreign coal and oil.
December 19, 2011
Martin Beranek

Energy has always been the weak link in Israel's thriving economy. Decades of digging and drilling yielded practically no hydrocarbons at all. Israel was forced to spend 5% of its GDP buying fuel from suppliers that did not have its interests at heart, and were often unreliable. At one point for instance, Israel purchased 40% of its natural gas from Egypt. But the pipeline across the Sinai has been bombed so many times there was often not enough time between explosions to get the gas flowing again. Post-Mubarak Egypt desperately needs the money to replace lost tourism revenue, but hatred of Israel trumps all.
The first brightening of this bleak picture came in 1998, when offshore drilling in Israel's Mediterranean waters got under way. In 2000, a consortium led by Noble Energy of Houston struck commercial quantities of natural gas off the southern coast, west of Ashdod. By 2004, the Mari B field was in full production, with reserves of nearly 1 trillion cubic feet of gas. This remains the only currently producing offshore well in Israel.
But Noble Energy was convinced there must be bigger reserves waiting in deeper waters, and in 2009, diligent exploration paid off in a big way. The Tamar field, with 9 trillion cubic feet of gas, was the biggest offshore gas field found anywhere in the world that year. And the next year, Noble Energy struck it even richer with the 16 trillion cubic foot Leviathan field, further west of Haifa. That was the biggest offshore find of the decade. Together, these discoveries opened up entirely new possibilities. The Tamar field, with enough gas to supply all of Israel's needs for decades, offered energy security, and the Leviathan field offered energy for export and billions of dollars a year in potential revenues.
Gas is scheduled to start flowing from Tamar in 2013 and from Leviathan in 2016. With the same consortium operating Mari B and Tamar and Leviathan, the Israeli government was very concerned about giving one group of companies a monopoly over its offshore gas. This monopoly has now been broken by other companies who've found rich pickings in the sea off central Israel. A three-dimensional seismographic survey of the Myra and Sarah fields northwest of Netanya and southeast of Leviathan has revealed 6.5 trillion cubic feet of gas waiting to be developed by a consortium led by the Israel Land Development Company.
Modiin Energy has a controlling interest in the Gabriella field in shallow water not far west of Tel Aviv, with an estimated 3.56 trillion cubic feet of gas, and the Yam Hadera field west of Hadera, with an estimated 1.4 trillion cubic feet.
Adira Energy, a Canadian company, is developing the Yitzhak field southwest of Netanya, with an estimated   989 billion cubic feet. And ATP Oil & Gas of Houston has partnered with Isramco Negev to develop the Shimshon field, with a best estimate of 2.3 trillion cubic feet.
Of course, Nobel Energy hasn't rested on its laurels after Leviathan. It has identified 12 more prospects with 20 trillion cubic feet of potential gas in the territory covered by its licenses. And all of the fields mentioned have substantial quantities of oil waiting to be developed as well. The best estimate for the Gabriella field alone is 277 million barrels of oil.
Getting the most out of all these discoveries will take not just technical expertise and money, but strategic thinking and sound diplomacy as well. And that is what Israel has been practicing, with Greece and Cyprus in particular.

It is rare to find an oil or gasfield so big it can transform an economy. Last week Eni, the Italian energy group, did just that, trumpeting the discovery of an underwater "supergiant" off Egypt it says could be one of the world's biggest gasfields.
Zohr is a monster - the largest such find in the Mediterranean. The field lies far below the seabed in waters almost 1,500 metres deep, but is within easy reach of existing infrastructure, making it relatively simple to develop. Claudio Descalzi, Eni's chief executive, says it holds 30tn cubic feet or more of natural gas - equivalent to 5.5bn barrels of oil.
Indeed, such is its size that Zohr's importance to Egypt is "enormous", says Wood Mackenzie, the energy consultancy. When the project comes on stream, possibly as soon as 2017, it will meet the country's domestic gas demand for at least a decade, eliminating the need for imports.
The discovery's impact will be felt beyond Egypt, too, and especially in Israel, where energy companies harbour ambitions to sell gas from its recently discovered, and now overshadowed, Leviathan field to Cairo.
"This is huge. It could bring Egypt back into being an energy exporter and upset all other plans for developing gasfields in the Mediterranean," says Patrick Heather, senior research fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. "For Europe as a whole, this has to be good news," he adds. "It's potentially more gas coming on to the market. The question is, does Europe need the gas?"
Last week's find is the latest evidence of a renaissance in Egyptian exploration that, if managed properly, could bring to an end the country's energy crisis, in which domestic demand has outstripped supply.
After a lean decade for discoveries, international energy groups have announced billions of dollars of investment in Egypt this year, encouraged by government moves to pay debt they are owed and slash domestic energy subsidies. Eni's success can be expected to spur on BP, which is to spend $12bn in the west Nile delta.
Foreign investment is desperately needed. The damage to Egypt's economy from political upheaval following the 2011 revolution has been compounded by energy shortages caused mainly by a fall in its natural gas production from a peak of 6.1bn cubic feet per day in 2009 to 4.7bn cf/d in 2014.
As a result, Egypt recently switched from being an exporter of liquefied natural gas to a net importer. Supplies to energy-hungry manufacturers such as cement and fertiliser producers have been rationed and often reduced.
Wood Mac's Martijn Murphy says that LNG imports are expected to reach almost 6m tonnes next year. However, an extra 2.5bn-3bn cf/d of output from the new gasfield would probably lead to Egypt again becoming self-sufficient. "Zohr crowns a remarkable transformation of fortunes," he says.
Even before the Eni announcement, a $6.5bn plan to develop Israel's offshore Leviathan field was in trouble because of disagreement within the Israeli cabinet and Knesset over how to develop the project without giving its shareholders excessive pricing and market power. The shareholders also control the smaller Tamar gasfield, which began supplying Israel in 2013.
The Egyptian discovery is nearly 40 per cent bigger than Leviathan. As such, investors have moved to factor in the diminishing likelihood of Leviathan supplying Egypt. Shares in Delek, Avner Oil & Gas, and Ratio Oil Exploration, the field's Israeli backers, tumbled last week. Those in Noble Energy of the US, the leading foreign shareholder in Tamar and Leviathan, also declined.

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