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More than 1,000 prophecies are found in the Bible, and a high percentage (~80%) of these have come true. But one has not…… at least up to now. The prophesy (see below) by Jacob that his son Asher would “dip his foot in oil” has led oil and gas explorers to search diligently for oil in Israel. For example John Brown, a born-again Christian from Texas, searched in the 1980’s. He finally admitted the verse might refer to olive oil, of which Israel has plenty**.

According to one expert: “Israel is blessed in the olive oil department, but from its founding had no choice but to import all of its energy—oil, gas, and coal. Golda Meir often joked that God had guided the Jewish people through the desert to the only land in the Middle East with no oil. To date, little on-shore oil (or gas) has been found”.

The Sedco Express drilling rig above the Tamar gas field in the Mediterranean (click on image to enlarge or to source).

But things have changed since 2009. A friend provided an article from which I have excerpted the following (thank you Garland):
• In 1991, Gideon Tadmor founded Avner Energy. He sought investment from the Texan oil giants because he wanted to drill deep into the seabed, far offshore.
• Finally a small Houston-based company, Noble Energy, agreed to supply most of the capital. Also, the drilling technology, and the analytic skills needed to interpret seismic data used to determine good places to drill.

• The companies found several small gas fields and then two large ones. Today, Israel’s known gas reserves are 30 trillion cubic feet (tcf), and maybe more. That exceeds Israel’s energy needs for the next 30 to 50 years.
• In 2009, Tadmor and Noble hit upon their first “gusher,” the Tamar reservoir (9 tcf), 56 miles off Israel’s coast. The natural gas—which lies under a mile of water depth and more than a mile beneath the seabed—began flowing in March 2013.

The timing was fortuitous. In 2005, Israel had signed a 15-year agreement with the Egyptian government to buy natural gas. But with the advent of the Arab Spring, the pipeline traversing the Sinai repeatedly fell victim to Arab saboteurs. This lead to electricity shortages in Israel. Then in 2012, Cairo canceled the agreement altogether. Already, the Tamar field supplies the bulk of Israel’s natural gas needs, including 40 percent of electric power.

• In 2010, a year after finding the Tamar field, Noble discovered the much larger Leviathan reservoir (17 tcf) about 80 miles off the coast of Haifa. Once Leviathan comes on line, around 2017, Tadmor and his partners will be able to do far more than provide Israel’s energy needs.

• Israel will soon be a net exporter of energy, and this is a tremendous boost to the Israeli economy and will therefore strengthen its political and diplomatic position in that part of the Middle East.
• Last June, the Israeli Cabinet decided to allocate 60 percent of the natural gas for domestic use and to export the rest. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the gas “a gift from nature” that could earn Israel $60 billion.

• One option is to convert natural gas into liquefied natural gas (LNG) and ship it by specially built tankers that can travel long distances. LNG is more flexible than pipelines, but requires construction of hugely expensive facilities ($5 billion and up for an LNG train).
• The Tamar platform, a massive structure almost as high as the Eiffel Tower, is a sitting duck for Israel’s enemies. Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah have warned that Israel’s gas industry could be a strategic target.

Gideon Tadmor on platform of drill rig (click on image to enlarge or to source).

One other discovery. Oil shale reserves under Israel itself could total 250 billion barrels, ranking it third in the world behind China and the United States. South of Jerusalem, where according to the Bible David slew Goliath, are some of those billions of barrels.

Unlike the shale oil extracted by the process known as “fracking,” which exists in liquid form trapped inside of rock, the oil beneath the surface of Israel is “frozen” inside the rock itself and must be converted into liquid before being pumped out. Could this be the “flinty rock” mentioned below in the Bible?

However, none of this oil has yet been produced because the technical challenges are immense. Despite this, Israel Energy Initiatives (IEI), is developing a unique technology that could unlock the oil by heating it (via drilled wells) and “melting” the frozen oil before pumping it to the surface.

The Gray Nomad.
Probing the practice of Christian believers……

Of Asher he said, More blessed than sons is Asher. May he be favored by his brothers, and may he dip his foot in oil (Deuteronomy 33:24).

The Lord alone guided him, and there was no foreign god with him. He made him ride on the high places of the earth, and he ate the produce of the field. And He made him suck honey from the rock, and oil from the flinty rock (Deuteronomy 32:12-13).

** Frank Jacobs: Israeli Oil, Gas Find Just in Time, 2013.

The future? An end of oil imports by Israel? (Click on image to enlarge or to source).

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4 Responses to Bible Prophecy – Oil in Israel?

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  2. anne-françoise |

    Dear Ian, this could have interest if you think that only the people of Israel are God’s children. But since we know that all human beings are God’s children, I would be surprised if God would have given more oil to Israel than to other people of the world. However as His main wish is that we all love each other as He loves us, this would imply that Israel should share with all their human brothers.

    • Hi Anne-Francoise. The Old Testament does refer to the Israelites as God’s chosen people. But up until now, Israel has been on the poor side of oil discoveries. If the new oil shale deposits in Israel are as large as is estimated, the picture changes a lot. But until this oil becomes producible, Israel is still in “catch-up” mode compared with the many other oil-rich countries.

  3. Dave Nawrocki |

    Interesting post, Ian, thanks. Here’s an article about how Greece and maybe Turkey will also become involved:
    http://business.financialpost.com/2013/08/29/israels-natural-gas-reserves-reshape-middle-east-dynamics/?__lsa=931d-e504
    Without doubt, israel will become more energy-independent with an important bridge fuel for the planet and also a likely natural gas exporter. But a troubling question arises: does part of this belong to Palestine? … Hmmm, that’s a tricky matter, especially for Christians in the western world. Worth noting perhaps, the Biblical passages you quote I believe were written during the bronze age. Having lived in Turkey for a while, which included wandering around the ancient historic remains on the island of Cyprus, it is clear that just as it is somewhat true today, olive oil was a huge resource to the local economies.

    • Hi Dave. Jacob and Asher lived in the bronze age I believe, but your point about olive oil is a good one. Still, if new technology makes the oil shale producible, it would be natural to think that it fulfills the prophesy. Incidentally, if the Israelis do succeed by inventing new technology, this would then be available to produce oil shales here in Colorado (which has a ton of them).

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