Zion Oil & Gas wins onshore exploration license in Israel

By Eric Watkins
The Israeli Petroleum Commissioner's Office has notified Zion Oil & Gas Inc that it will be awarded a new petroleum onshore exploration license on land in the Issachar-Zebulun Permit area. The Jordan Valley License area is to the east of Zion's Joseph license area and Zion's Asher-Menashe license area and to the south of the Sea of Galilee. It traverses south along the western Jordan River Valley. “In 2011, we intend to acquire additional seismic and other geological and geophysical data in our new license area, as we endeavor to refine our potential drilling prospects in this area,” said Zion's Chief Executive Officer, Richard Rinberg. Drilling operations at the firm’s Ma'anit-Joseph #3 well continue, according to Rinberg, who said Zion is aiming for its primary target in deep Permian age rock, expected at a depth of more than 5,790 m. The Ma'anit-Joseph #3 well is already one of the deepest wells ever drilled onshore Israel, Rinberg said. In addition to the new permit, Delaware-based Zion Oil & Gas, which explores for oil and gas in Israel in areas located on-shore between Haifa and Tel Aviv, holds the Joseph License and the Asher-Menashe License covering 162,000 acres. Zion’s announcement coincided with a report by the official MENA news agency that Egypt's prime minister has asked for the revision off all contracts to supply gas abroad, including to Israel. Egypt supplies an estimated 40% of Israel's gas under an agreement that has been controversial with Egyptians since its framing in 2005. MENA said that Prime Minister Essam Sharraf "has directed the revision and review of all gas contracts Egypt agreed to with all countries, including Jordan and Israel" in an effort to achieve “the highest returns for Egypt.” Egypt resumed shipments of gas to Israel last month after they were interrupted in a Feb 5 attack on a pipeline across the Sinai Peninsula. In December, four Israeli firms signed agreements to import gas from the Israeli-Egyptian East Mediterranean Gas (EMG) under a 20-year contract valued at $5-$10 billion, boosting imports to six billion cubic meters (bcm). The decision to review the gas deals is the latest in a year-old battle over Egypt's natural gas exports to Israel — agreements that critics say gave the Jewish state with sharply discounted gas. Under the original 2005 agreement, Cairo-based EMG agreed to sell 1.7 bcm of natural gas to Israel at a price critics say is set at $1.50 per million British thermal units, sharply down from current rates. Natural gas futures were trading at $4.15 per million BTU on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Apr. 13. Israel meanwhile has been touting its own prospects as a potential exporter of natural gas after Noble Energy Inc. reported an apparently major natural gas discovery with its Leviathan exploration prospect it operates off Israel. "This discovery has the potential to position Israel as a natural gas exporting nation," said Nobel Pres. and Chief Operating Officer David L. Stover (OGJ, Jan. 10, 2011). Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com
Stay Connected