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Noble Energy to Search for 1.5 Billion Barrels of Oil Beneath Leviathan Field

Over the past five years oil and gas exploration companies have made some huge natural gas discoveries in Israel, enough to turn it into an exporter, but a major oil discovery would really major a huge difference to the country’s economy. Currently Israel imports 98% of its oil, spending around $10 billion a year, so it is hoped that a boost to domestic production would greatly boost the economy, and provide security against supply disruptions.

Bloomberg reports that Noble Energy Inc. is set to drill Israel’s deepest ever well at more than 6,500 metres below the Mediterranean seabed, beginning this year, in order to search for a discovery that it estimates contains 1.5 billion barrels of crude oil.

David Wurmser, the director of Delphi Global Analysis Group, told Bloomberg that “the economic impact on Israel would be far greater than that of natural gas. Finding the oil would mean big money for the Israeli companies and the government.”

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Shemen Oil & Gas Resources Ltd. is also looking for oil in Israel, hoping to complete their well by the end of August, in a field that is estimated to hold 120 million barrels of oil. Gabi Ashkenazi, the chairman of Shemen, said that “if we are successful, it will be a strong push to the economy, and to the strategic objective to become energy independent.”

Natural gas production has already begun in the Tamar field, which the Bank of Israel expects will increase GDP by one percent, but it is below the giant Leviathan field, expected to start producing in 2016, that Noble hopes to find oil.

Offshore natural gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean
Offshore natural gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean. (Oil in Israel)

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It has been predicted that the Leviathan field holds around 19 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, but Noble Energy believes that a layer of rack below the monster gas field may contain as much as 1.5 billion barrels of oil. As soon as a new drill ship is delivered from South Korea, Noble will begin to drill an exploratory well in 1.6 kilometres of water that will reach to 6.5 kilometres below the seabed. They have rated their chances of success at 25%.

Susan Cunningham, the senior vice president of exploration and business innovation at Noble, stated; “we believe there is potential for significant oil resources at this prospect and the basin.”

By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com



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