Tensions Boil as Israeli Oil Riches Grow

God’s Hidden treasures found by Israel

Originally Posted by News Watch

Israel’s once hidden oil riches are now certain to be so large its treasures  could make it the richest oil country in the world. And, its neighbors are not  only noticing, they’re boiling mad.It was just forty years ago when  Golda Meir, the former prime minister of Israel once famously quipped, “Why did  Moses lead us to the one place in the Middle East without oil?” Well  Prime Minister, Moses turned out to have a pretty good eye for what a promised  land might look like.Since oil was first discovered in the Middle East,  Israel has been cut off from the world’s exploration resources because of its  Arab neighbors. No major oil company would dare explore there in fear of an Arab  backlash.

Over time technologies in oil exploration have improved and  international experts have noticed Israel’s potential. In the past,  oil-exploration adventurers would visit Israel, some of them reminiscent of  Indiana Jones, arguing enthusiastically that there had to be legendary oil  reserves in the promised land. The adventurers picked their drilling sites  according to concealed hints in the Tanach, especially Yehezkel, but the  drilling ended in disappointment. The legend of oil riches in Israel turned  into a cruel joke. They simply didn’t know what they were looking for and didn’t  have the proper technology to find it. But, in the last three years  Israel has discovered one mega-discovery after another. First, it discovered 1.5  billion barrels of oil onshore at Rosh Ha’Ayin, located about 10 miles inland  from the Tel Aviv coastline. It was a small but important find that sparked a  flurry of exploration activity. Then, a big one followed by another –  both are noteworthy, and rare, and are the largest finds anywhere in the last  decade. US Geological Survey (USGS) estimates, the entire Leviathan Basin holds  1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 700 billion cubic meters of  recoverable gas.Expert surveys for the Tamar field conducted by the U.S.  petroleum consultants Netherland, Sewell & Associates indicate that the  field contains proven reserves of 217 billion cubic meters of gas.And  then another find. It turns out that Israel has the second-biggest oil shale  deposits in the world, outside the US:”We estimate that there is the  equivalent of 250 billion barrels of oil here. To put that in context, there are  proven reserves of 260 billion barrels of oil in Saudi Arabia, says Dr. Harold  Vinegar, the former chief scientist of Royal Dutch Shell.”Let’s do the  math. That’s 250 billion in shale oil, 3.2 billion in conventional oil in  estimated reserves, or enough oil to match that of Saudi-Arabia. Plus, that’s 50  trillion cubic feet of natural gas, giving it about 10% of the entire world’s  gas reserves — all while Israel’s exploration activities are just  beginning.I’d say most rational people would say this is nothing short  of a miracle. But one man’s miracle is not a miracle to another. Economic  miracles tend to upset a lot of sovereigns eager to get their share – whether  they can legitimately claim it or not. The backlash has begun and the  geopolitical crisis now playing out will be worthy of the most serious prophetic  predictions. Israel, whose exploration is the most advanced, is making  plenty of new discoveries. Cyprus, too, is on the cusp of energy riches and  (Iranian backed) Lebanon is anxious to launch exploration of its waters. As would have it, all this excitement is exacerbating old  rivalries between Israel and Lebanon and between Turkey and Greece, with Russia,  Syria, Egypt and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip likely to get drawn into  some serious drama.Worse yet, Russia is determined to rival Turkish  ambitions for regional influence and cannot help being dragged into the  conflict.

Unfortunately, Israel is seemingly giving Russia the cold  shoulder. As late as last week, the Russian government-backed oil producer  Rosneft held consultations on possible participation in the development of  Israel’s offshore natural gas fields, but emerged from the negotiations with no  “effective offers.” This geopolitical snub won’t go unnoticed by  Russia. Last month, Turkey, a former strategic ally of Israel and now one  of its most strongest critics, warned other major international companies  seeking exploration licenses from the Greek Cypriot government, (Israel’s new  ally), to stay away. Predictably, Israel responded by dispatching military  protection to the seas over its oil interests.

Turkey has now warned it  will stop Israel from unilaterally exploiting gas resources in the eastern  Mediterranean and suggests it is prepared to respond with force to make its  point and that, according to geopolitical experts poses a direct  challenge to U.S. policy. The U.S. has a strong interest in eastern  Mediterranean with countries finding and exploiting offshore reserves. But the  U.S. has its hands-full politically, and is ill-prepared financially to support  any new conflict. It currently borrows every dollar it needs to run its military  and the American people aren’t going to favor any new conflict they have to pay  for – even if it were necessary to protect Israel.

It is the  long-running issue of war-divided Cyprus between Turkey and Greece that is the  real key to understanding Turkey’s squabbles with Israel. Here’s  why. Cyprus was split into Greek and Turkish zones when the Turks  invaded in 1974 and seized the northern one-third of the Cyprus  island .Recent discoveries of natural gas are thus encouraging Turkey to  renew its diplomatic campaign on behalf of “Turkish Cypriots” in the so-called  Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Why? For the gas and oil it claims to own.  Thus, Turkey is launching its own exploration in and around Cyprus and any major  strikes it may make (and it will) will only fuel the crisis. So Turkey and  Israel aren’t seeing eye-to-eye and are willing to fight over it. So, the  next big boom (sorry for the pun) is firmly centered on Cyprus. Tensions  recently escalated when the Greek Cypriot government (the legitimate Cypress  government recognized by the U.N.) started pushing to open up its Aphrodite  field off the southern coast. It’s a whopper that’s likely to match the  Israelis’ biggest field, the Leviathan. Worse yet, it’s probably a geologic  extension of the Israeli-owned Leviathan.Aphrodite contains an estimated  22 trillion cubic feet of gas and sizeable oil deposits as well.On May  19th, Turkey drew a line in the sand. “Turkey will not allow any activity in  these fields,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry declared.But 15 companies  and consortiums, including Russia’s Novatec, Eni of Italy, France’s Total and  Petronas of Malaysia are all seeking licenses to drill in Aphrodite and 11 other  exploration blocks off (Israel friendly) southern Cyprus.

So get this  picture into your mind. There’s a crowd forming that could turn into an angry  mob with everyone wanting to plunder Israel’s newly found riches. The  Israeli’s and Cyprus plan is to funnel their gas through a joint pipeline  through Greece to Western Europe to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russia for  most of its gas. Mr. Putin, the Russian President, isn’t happy about the  possibilities of losing a big customer for its natural gas  production. On the other hand, Turkey is determined to restore its historical influence across the Middle East and Central Asia by applying  pressure to transform its resource-poor country into the key energy hub between east and the west – a direct challenge to an Israel/Cypress plan to pipe oil and  gas through Greece on to Italy to fuel the rest of Europe. That  increases the stakes in the eastern Mediterranean, with Russia, one of the  world’s top oil and gas powers, trying to find a way to cash in on the  boom.

Moscow is nervous about Turkey’s ambitious regional plans. Russian  President Putin also intends to restore Moscow’s Cold War influence in the  region. That places Russia and Turkey on opposite sides, including in the  Syrian civil war. Moscow backs the Damascus regime, a longtime client; Turkey  supports the rebels. And, neither appreciates Israel’s newly found oil power,  which threatens the entire eastern Mediterranean’s balance of  power. Moscow is not without some links to the riches. It has strong  links with the Greek Cypriots but its offers to help Cyprus is motivated in part  by the prospect of losing Russia’s naval base at the Syrian port of Tartus, it’s  only toehold in the Mediterranean. If the Syrian regime falls, Russia loses its  military base in the region. So it’s seeking an alternative base for its Black  Sea Fleet in Cyprus – the epicenter of the oil discoveries. Syria too,  has great riches off its coast; a fact not lost on Russia. If the Syrian regime  falls it is certain that Russia’s desire to pick up the pieces (for its own)  will be irresistible. In summary, we have a newly enriched Israel  powerful enough to completely change the geopolitics of the Middle East on one  side. On the other, we have Turkey, determined to cash in – with force if  necessary – to establish its own claim to riches while Russia, with its  impoverished Muslim regional allies seeking attention. Then there’s  Persian-backed Lebanon, in need of development funding for its significant rich  fields just offshore of it’s own border. As the old saying goes, “the  best way to get attention is to start a fight.”And, that’s exactly what  will happen.

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~ by shannonbhana on October 19, 2012.

One Response to “Tensions Boil as Israeli Oil Riches Grow”

  1. Very interesting article. Thanks

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