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Friday, March 11, 2011

Israel saving the world, again

From Dore Gold in the Jerusalem Post:

The British-based World Energy Council reported in November 2010 that Israel had oil shale from which it is possible to extract the equivalent of 4 billion barrels of oil. Yet these numbers are currently undergoing a major revision internationally.

A new assessment was released late last year by Dr. Yuval Bartov, chief geologist for Israel Energy Initiatives, at the yearly symposium of the prestigious Colorado School of Mines. He presented data that our oil shale reserves are actually the equivalent of 250 billion barrels (that compares with 260 billion barrels in the proven reserves of Saudi Arabia).

Independent oil industry analysts have been carefully looking at the shale, and have not refuted these findings. As a consequence of these new estimates, we may emerge as the third largest deposit of oil shale, after the US and China.

OIL SHALE mining used to be a dirty business that used up tremendous amounts of water and energy.

Yet new technologies, being developed for Israeli shale, seek to separate the oil from the shale rock 300 meters underground; these techniques actually produce water, rather than use it up.

The technology will be tested in a pilot project followed by a demonstration stage. It will be critical to demonstrate that the underground separation of oil from shale is environmentally sound before going to full-scale production. The present goal is to produce commercial quantities of shale oil by the end of the decade.

This particular project has global significance.

For if Israel develops a unique method for separating oil from shale deep underground, that has none of the negative ecological side-effects of earlier oil shale efforts, that technology can be made available to the whole world, changing the entire global oil market. The effect of the spread of this technology would be to shift the center of gravity of world oil away from Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf to more stable states that have no history of backing terrorism or radical Islamic causes. (In the Arab world, Jordan and Morocco have the most significant oil shale deposits.)

WHEN WILL the West begin to treat Israel as a powerful energy giant and not as a weak client state that must be pressured? In the case of the Saudis, when the US realized the true extent of their oil reserves, after America’s reserves in Texas and Oklahoma were depleted by World War II, it sought to upgrade its military and diplomatic ties with the Saudi kingdom even before its production capacity was fully exploited. The US-Saudi connection grew as massive infrastructure investments for moving Saudi oil to Western markets were made, like the Trans-Arabian Pipeline (TAPLINE).
It is a little premature to celebrate, but if all the "ifs" get worked out, but this could be the most important news for the next fifty years.

(h/t The Muqata)