With the recent announcement that Rupert Murdoch and Lord Jacob Rothschild have bought shares in Genie Oil & Gas Inc., which owns 89% of the company, Israel Energy Initiatives (IEI), granted license to conduct an oil share exploration project in Israel’s Elah Valley, we started thinking: if the big players want a slice, it must be some kind of delicious oil shale pie.
Not so much, according to a 2005 United States Geological Survey. There’s a lot of it. But it is not all easily accessible and the quality is inconsistent, sometimes mediocre. Jordan’s reserves, on the other side of the Dead Sea, are much better. “Twenty marinite deposits of Late Cretaceous age have been identified in Israel… containing about 12 billion tons of oil-shale reserves with an average heating value of 1,150 kcal/kg of rock and an average oil yield of 6 weight percent,” according to the USGS.
The oil yield amounts to 60-70 l/t, which is relatively low according to the study, while the moisture, carbonate, and sulfur content are all relatively high.
USGS suggests that the deposits can be mined by open-pit methods and that phosphate rock between 8-15m thick lies beneath the Mishor Rotem open-pit mine. Israel’s Ministry of National Infrastructure believes that exploiting the phosphate along with the oil shale could help to mitigate environmental impact.
With heating values ranging from 650 to 1200 kcal/kg, the quality of the Rotem oil shale is inconsistent.
Also according to the Ministry:
There are indications that some 15% of the country is underlain by Oil Shale beds. The theoretical, geological Oil Shale reserves in Israel are enormous, and may reach a figure well above hundred billion tons. However, mineable reserves form only a tiny fraction of that figure and are probably applicable to deposits associated with active phosphate mining areas. Advance in the development of in-situ techniques may probably enlarge the mineable reserves figure of the Israeli Oil Shale.
Jordan, on the other hand, has 26 known deposits of oil shale. Located east of the Dead Sea, the eight most important of these are the Juref ed Darawish, Sultani, Wadi Maghar, El Lajjun, Attarat Umm Ghudran, Khan ez Zabib, Siwaga, and Wadi Thamad deposits. However, USGS suggests that the only potential water supply that could be used to exploit the oil is the aquifer beneath the Kurnub Formation, 1000m below the surface, but further studies must be conducted before anyone thinks about using it.
Meanwhile, Israel’s Ministry of Environment spokesperson Rakefet Barlev told Green Prophet that it has “asked IEI for clarifications on several issues pertaining to the pilot project, that they were answered only in part and [they] await further answers,” adding that “For the time being there is still no conclusive position of the Ministry relating to the pilot.”
More news on the planned oil shale development project in Israel: