Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Israel: The New Saudi Arabia of Fossil Fuel?

Here's a surprising story that will change power relations in the Middle East. From an article in the Jerusalem Post:
How Israel could revolutionize the global energy sector

03/11/2011 17:04

New data suggests Israel may not only have much larger gas resources than believed, but also the 3rd largest deposit of oil shale in the world.

... The implications for Israel of the West’s growing dependence on Middle Eastern oil are troubling, for obvious reasons. Yet there are two new developments in our energy sector that could well offset these trends and eventually alter our standing in the world, especially with respect to Europe.

First, the gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean, which began to produce commercial quantities of natural gas in 2004, are generally well-known. The Tamar field, which should begin production in 2013, is expected to supply all of Israel’s domestic requirements for at least 20 years. The Economist suggested in November 2010 that the recently discovered Leviathan field, which has twice the gas of Tamar, could be completely devoted to exports.

All the undersea gas fields together have about 25 trillion cubic feet of gas, but the potential for further discoveries is considerably greater, given that the US Geological Survey estimates that there are 122 trillion cubic feet of gas in the whole Levant Basin, most of which is within Israel’s jurisdiction.

After the Leviathan discovery these numbers could go up further. Perhaps for that reason, Greece has been talking to Israel about creating a transportation hub for distributing gas throughout Europe from the Eastern Mediterranean that will come from undersea pipelines.

What is less well-known, but even more dramatic, is the work being done on this country’s oil shale. 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). ...
There is more, go read the whole article.

I love surprises! Life is always blindsiding you. Anybody who thinks they can linearly extrapolate the present into the future has his head in the sand.

I always enjoy thinking about the fact that for over 80 years experts have been warning that there is less than 20 years supply of fossil fuel. The favourite theory is "peak oil". A theory first propounded in 1956 to warn people to prepare for the coming "end of oil".

I remember teaching a social studies class in the mid-1970s using material telling those kids that they needed to accept that cars would not be in the future. There just wouldn't be the oil there to allow them the luxury of driving.

But if you look at this Wikipedia page you can see that the major producing areas all have "proven reserves" big enough to supply oil at current rates for more than 50 years.

Notice how that page lists the biggest reserve as a puny 267 billion barrels of oil. But if you look at this page from the Government of Alberta Canada, you can see that just this tar sands of Alberta makes Saudia Arabia look like a piker:
Alberta’s oil sands underlie 140,200 square kilometres (km2) (54,132 square miles) of land in the Athabasca, Cold Lake and Peace River areas in northern Alberta. Together these oil sands areas contain an estimated 1.8 trillion barrels (initial volume in place) of crude bitumen. About 10% of this volume (169.9 billion barrels) is recoverable using current technology and is considered to be a proven reserve.
Other information on Alberta oil sands can be found here.

I think everybody should welcome Israel to the oil barons of today! Lots of energy for many, many years.

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