Black gold under the Golan

A RIG carrying out exploratory drilling is hardly a rare sight in the Middle East; but this is no ordinary place. Israeli flags fly on it, though no other country in the world recognises Israel’s sovereignty over the area. A few miles to the east, jihadist rebel groups are fighting a bloody war. And few people ever expected that significant amounts of oil might lie there at all, under a dormant volcanic field. Welcome to the Golan Heights.


ITD Editor's Note about the words: Gog, Magog and Persia and the HOOK in the jaw and the SPOIL

Could this be the spoil, since Syria claims this is their land and Russia has brought their army into Syria?
Of course there is the fact that Russia is running out of Oil in the North Sea.
Draw you own conclusion………
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Moving Towards Ezekiel 38-39

“To take a spoilStrongs 7998: shalal, shaw-lawl´; from 7997; booty:—prey, spoil., and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land. Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoilStrongs 7998: shalal, shaw-lawl´; from 7997; booty:—prey, spoil.? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoilStrongs 7998: shalal, shaw-lawl´; from 7997; booty:—prey, spoil.?”
Ezekiel 38:12-13

Israeli and American oilmen believe they have discovered a bonanza in this most inconvenient of sites. After three test-drillings, Yuval Bartov, the chief geologist of Genie Oil & Gas, a subsidiary of American-based Genie Energy, says his company thinks it has found an oil reservoir “with the potential of billions of barrels”.

Veterans of Israel’s energy sector are sceptical. Despite many optimistic starts, only two small oilfields in Israel have ever been commercially exploited. The indications are that the Golan field is of a different magnitude. But since there is little experience anywhere of drilling for oil under once-volcanically-active areas, it will take more comprehensive work to determine whether oil can be extracted profitably. And even then, big obstacles will remain.

This is not Genie’s first foray into Israel. In 2008 it launched an investment to extract shale oil in the Valley of Elah, in central Israel, but was forced to stop operations there in September 2014 when a coalition of environmentalists prevailed on planning authorities to withhold the necessary permits. This time the company has managed to get exploratory licences, despite opposition from green and local groups concerned that drilling could pollute the largely unspoilt Golan countryside and the Sea of Galilee below, the source of most of Israel’s drinking water. But many more legal and planning battles await.

The biggest problems, though, revolve around the issue of sovereignty. Israel’s decision in 1981 to annex the Golan (unlike the West Bank, which remains formally under military occupation) caused a diplomatic crisis with America. The heights are still regarded internationally as illegally-occupied Syrian territory. Israel’s leaders in the past have offered to pull back from the Golan, which it captured in 1967, in return for a comprehensive peace treaty with the Syrian government. But any such deal has been firmly out of the question since Syria began disintegrating in 2011.

An influential group is now lobbying Israel’s government to take advantage of the chaos in Syria and demand international recognition of its control of 1,200 square kilometres (460 square miles) on the Golan. The group includes Zvi Hauser, a former cabinet secretary to the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, who has urged that Israel should demand this as a compensation for having to tolerate the nuclear agreement with Iran.

It is not clear whether Genie shares this objective, but if it chose to, it would be no surprise. Genie’s founder and CEO is Howard Jonas, an influential American-Jewish businessman. The president of Genie’s Israeli subsidiary is Effie Eitam, a Golan settler and a former general who is close to the prime minister. And in America Genie has increased its clout. In September it added some influential new members to an advisory board that already included a former vice-president, Dick Cheney, and a media tycoon, Rupert Murdoch. One was Larry Summers, who was treasury secretary in the Clinton administration and director of the National Economic Council under Barack Obama. Also added were two other Clinton-era appointees: Bill Richardson, an ex-ambassador to the United Nations and energy secretary, and James Woolsey, a former CIA director.

For most of its existence, Israel has relied on unstable or distant sources for its energy. Recent large finds of offshore gas have opened new opportunities, but have also caused fights over pricing, export quotas and private ownership. This week Israel’s economics minister, Aryeh Deri, resigned in a row over these issues. So the prospect of energy independence for his country—as well as the idea of establishing recognition of its control of land captured 48 years ago—is certainly alluring.

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