Archive for the ‘Oil’ Category

Image: Natural gas rig off the coast of Haifa, Israel. Photo credit: Noble Energy.

Excerpted from Joel Rosenberg email update 31 Dec 2010

“… a trail of prophetic clues found in the Hebrew Scriptures that some believe (myself included) indicate that in the “last days” the nation of Israel will be blessed by discovering huge reserves of petroleum that will make Israel quite wealthy.

Those clues suggest Israel will be able to “dip his foot in oil” and draw “oil from the flinty rock.” The Jewish people will find “hidden treasures in the sand” and an “abundance of the seas.” This newfound wealth in the last days will certainly be a blessing for Israel, but it will also draw enemies and may very well help trigger the “War of Gog and Magog” when the nations ask the leaders of the Russian-Iranian alliance that comes against the Jewish state, “Have you come to capture spoil [from Israel]? Have you assembled your [military forces] to seize plunder, to carry away silver and gold….to capture a great spoil?”

Are such prophecies now coming to pass? Are such headlines further evidence that we are living in the “last days” before the return of our Lord Jesus Christ? It’s a story worth keeping an eye on, to be sure. ”

Joel’s weblog: http://flashtrafficblog.wordpress.com

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Discovery of giant gasfield sparks frenzy in Israel
The National online 31 Dec 2010

The discovery of the largest gasfield in the eastern Mediterranean set off a frenzy yesterday in Israel, which has long depended on imported energy.

The Leviathan field, estimated to hold 16 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas worth more than US$95 billion (Dh348.93bn), was discovered by Noble Energy and its partners 130km offshore from Haifa, the northern Israeli port.

The discovery will “impact many fields in Israel,” Uzi Landau, Israel’s infrastructure minister, said after the announcement.The discovery is almost three times as large as the nearby Tamar gasfield that a group led by Noble struck two years ago.

It is four times as big as Egypt’s largest gasfield and eight times larger than the Gaza Marine gasfield…

The twin Tamar and Leviathan discoveries mean Israel has more than enough gas to fuel its power stations for decades. It currently depends on Egypt for much of its gas supply.

Israel’s gas find has sparked a trading frenzy in Tel Aviv and New York. The shekel gained as much as 0.8 percent to 3.5432 per dollar, the highest level since October 2008.

Shares of local oil and gas companies have shot up this year, but many pulled back yesterday as investors realised that the path to bringing Leviathan’s gas on stream might not be smooth.

One factor is that Noble, based in the US, and its Israeli partners, Delek Energy, Avner Oil Exploration and Ratio Oil Exploration, are nervous about the deteriorating environment for oil and gas investment in Israel.

“Realising the potential of Leviathan requires from the developers enormous investment in infrastructure to export gas,” said Gideon Tadmor, the chief executive of Delek Energy, a unit of Delek Group.

Yoram Turbowitz, the group’s chief executive, told Israel’s Haaretz newspaper he was experiencing “a sense of success mixed with worry and concern that we will not be able to utilise the huge discovery … to its limits”.

“[It] will demand enormous investment in infrastructure. The state will need to assist with regulations, planning and accompanying what will become the largest infrastructure project in the country,” he added….

At least part of the 325 square kilometres covered by the Leviathan field lies within waters contested between Israel and Lebanon. The two neighbours do not have diplomatic relations and their maritime border has not been formally demarcated. Beirut stated this year that part of the Leviathan prospect lay within Lebanese territory.

In August, Lebanon’s government passed the country’s first oil exploration law. Gibran Bassil, the oil minister, said the first auction of offshore exploration licences could be held just over a year from now.

The border disputes may not stop there. This month, Israel and Cyprus reached an accord on their border that was promptly rejected by Turkey.

http://www.thenational.ae/business/energy/discovery-of-giant-gasfield-sparks-frenzy-in-israel?pageCount=0

(Did you ever wonder about scriptures suggesting Russia will come against Israel in the last days? Here are some clues as to why that might be: Tamar, Dalit and Leviathan Mediterranean gas fields. Be sure to read both articles below.)

Russian President Medvedev to visit Israel in mid-January
DEBKAfile December 15, 2010

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s first visit to Israel in mid-January, part of a Middle East tour, is intended to signify a major switch in Kremlin Middle East policy to warmer relations with Israel and correspondingly less intense ties with Iran, Syria and the radical Palestinian Hamas….

Furthermore, the Russians have got two bids in play for a slice of the as-yet untapped Mediterranean gas. While offering to partner Lebanon in exploring the oil and gas potential opposite its shores earlier this month, Debkafile’s sources report that the Russian energy giant Gazprom sent secret envoys to Tel Aviv at the same time.

They came to discuss investment opportunities with the Israeli firms holding the concessions for the Tamar, Dalit and Leviathan Mediterranean gas fields off the Israeli shore and a possible partnership in Israel’s Ashkelon-Eilat oil and gas pipelines.

According to our sources, Russian energy experts calculate that Israel’s offshore gas reserves, currently estimated at about 25 trillion cubic feet, are in fact much bigger, and maintain they could be better explored with Russian professional assistance. Leviathan is seen as the most promising of the three strikes….

Moscow sent five messages to Jerusalem:

1. For the purchase of military UAVs for the Russian army – for which an agreement will be signed – Moscow will guarantee to withhold advanced weapons, such as the sophisticated S-300 interceptor missile systems, from Iran and Syria. By this move, the Medvedev-Putin administration is drawing a line limiting Russia’s vital contribution to their military buildup and upgrade.

2. Moscow shares Israel’s view that any hi-tech Russian military hardware sold to Damascus or Tehran would eventually reach Hizballah. The Russians have no wish to upgrade Hizballah’s arsenal and therefore has a further incentive for keeping this weaponry out of Iranian and Syrian hands.

3. The Kremlin has recently shifted ground on the Palestinian issue and is no longer willing to automatically endorse Palestinian demands of Israel. Unlike Palestinian negotiators headed by Mahmoud Abbas, Moscow is prepared to look at interim solutions for the Palestinian-Israel dispute. The Russians say the Palestinians are aware of the new winds blowing in Moscow….

4. The Russians ask Israel to take note of another change in its favor: Hamas’s Damascus-based leader Khaled Meshaal is no longer welcome in Moscow.

5. Moscow is seeking to exploit the deepening strategic ties between Israel and Greece to jump aboard their plans to build an underwater gas pipeline linking Greece to the Israeli Mediterranean port of Ashkelon. This would link up with the existing Ashkelon oil and gas pipeline to Eilat, Israel’s Red Sea port.

Russian energy strategists are eyeing the planned and existing segments of this route with great interest, having calculated that the quickest and cheapest outlet for marketing Russian gas to the Far East is through Eilat.

Israeli leaders, President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu have high hopes of the Medvedev visit.

http://www.debka.com/article/20457/

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Moscow, Ankara move in on Lebanon’s offshore energy potential
DEBKAfile December 8, 2010

Photo: An effusive Kremlin welcome for Lebanese PM Hariri. With his sharp instincts for chances in the field of energy, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was stirred into discreet action by Israeli entrepreneurs’ discovery in the past year of a gas bonanza – three fields, dubbed Tamar, Dalit and Leviathan, off Israel’s Mediterranean coast, Debkafile’s Moscow sources report.

Their currently estimated reserves of 25 trillion cubic feet would more than cover Israel’s energy needs and enable it to become a gas exporter, revolutionizing an economy which has developed despite a paucity of natural resources.

Neither did Putin miss Beirut’s claim that Israel was “looting” Lebanese gas resources, or that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri had encountered a polite rejection when he travelled to Nicosia on Oct. 21 to ask Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias for help in mapping the borders of oil and gas fields in the Mediterranean.

Moscow accordingly went into action by inviting Hariri for a visit, which took place Nov. 16-17. With his back to the wall in a life-and-death struggle to save his government from falling into the hands of Hizballah, the Lebanese prime minister was granted the rare honor of an elaborate welcome by both Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev.

The Russian prime minister then pitched into his spiel: Moscow could help Lebanon place itself on the map of oil and gas fields and pipelines in the eastern Mediterranean. But to exploit its oil and gas wealth under the sea, Lebanon needed Russia as energy partner and provider of funds, equipment and skilled labor.

Russia would reciprocate with heavy investments in the Lebanese economy that would restore Beirut to its former prestige as financial capital of the Middle East and an assured supply of advanced weapons at token prices to secure those investments.

None of this prevented the Russian prime minister from sending a delegation to Tel Aviv last week to sound out Israel’s gas new tycoons for opportunities. On offer were Russian investments in funds and equipment and a Russian-Israeli partnership in laying the gas pipeline which Israel and Greece are planning as part of their evolving strategic alliance.

The Lebanese prime minister left Moscow with an understanding in his pocket on three points. As a mark of Russian goodwill, he was promised the gift of six MI 24 helicopters 31 T-72 tanks, 36 130 mm cannons complete with half a million shells and thirty thousand artillery shells – an unprecedented donation to a country outside Moscow’s sphere of influence. Their understanding extended to three key areas:

1. They would discuss big Russian firms building a number of gas-powered electricity plants in Lebanon, backed by Kremlin guarantees and financing – against a Lebanese guarantee to purchase their output over a 30-year period.

2. The Russian-built Arab Gas Pipeline Project Phase II, designed to bring gas from Egypt and run through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey, would grow a Lebanese branch. On Dec. 5, a Kremlin official said: “We want to study a possibility of gas shipment from Syria to Lebanon, for example, by using the Arab Gas Pipeline capacity.”

3. Moscow offered to build three nuclear power plants in Turkey.

The second understanding was the real reason for Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Beirut Wednesday, Nov. 24 and his talks with Hariri. Erdogan now has a new interest in defusing the tensions in Lebanon and keeping Hariri in power.

Debkafile’s military sources say that, in addition to his abiding interest in energy, Vladimir Putin keeps his eye on the big Russian naval base going up in Tartous, Syria. As headquarters of the Russian Black Sea and Mediterranean fleets, this base will also guard Moscow’s investments and holdings in gas and oil fields in the Mediterranean.

http://www.debka.com/article/20435/

Afghanistan won’t go away, in my opinion. Read current entry on www.bettecox.wordpress.com. Here are two interesting articles.

American and Afghan Troops Begin Combat for Kandahar
http://www.nytimes.com
September 26, 2010

ARGHANDAB, Afghanistan — American and Afghan troops have begun the active combat phase of a military operation designed to drive the Taliban out of districts around the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar city, military officials said Sunday.

Code-named “Operation Dragon Strike,” the push is focusing on clearing the Taliban from three districts to the west and south of the city, said Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz, a NATO spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul. “We expect hard fighting,” he said.

The aim, he said, would be “destroying Taliban fighting positions so they will not have anywhere to hide.”

The operation is the first large-scale combat involving multiple objectives in Kandahar Province, where a military offensive was originally expected to begin in June. That offensive was downgraded to more of a joint civil-military effort after the military encountered problems in trying to pacify the much smaller city of Marja and because of resistance from Afghan leaders concerned about the possibility of high civilian casualties.

During the last week of August, at the instigation of Afghan authorities, American troops supported a major push into the Mehlajat area on the southwest edge of Kandahar city, driving them from that area but with few casualties on either side. At the time, military officials said that was the beginning of what would be an increase in active combat operations around Kandahar.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/27/world/asia/27afghan.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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Here’s another article, which gives a little insight into the one above…

Afghanistan and the new great game
http://www.thestar.com
12 Aug 2009

Prized pipeline route could explain West’s stubborn interest in poor, remote land.

Why is Afghanistan so important? A glance at a map and a little knowledge of the region suggest that the real reasons for Western military involvement may be largely hidden.

Afghanistan is adjacent to Middle Eastern countries that are rich in oil and natural gas. And though Afghanistan may have little petroleum itself, it borders both Iran and Turkmenistan, countries with the second and third largest natural gas reserves in the world. (Russia is first.)

Read the rest of the article here:
http://www.thestar.com/comment/article/679670