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Gas Bonanza Investors Ready to Dive in Dead Sea for Black Gold

The Dead Sea is alive with oil, believes Yitzchak Tshuva, who heads the consortium that found billions of dollars of gas in the Mediterranean.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 9/10/2009, 8:09 AM / Last Update: 9/10/2009, 10:40 AM

Hana Levi Julian

An oil drilling consortium which includes companies that found billions of dollars in natural gas off the Haifa coast will begin in October to look for black gold in an area along the Dead Sea, according to Delek Group chief executive officer Yitzchak Tshuva.

He said that the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) has consented to the drilling after the consortium agreed to invest half a million dollars to protect the rich nature reserves in the area from damage during the exploration.

Investors' hopes of finding oil in Israel are based on seismic surveys that estimate that Dead Sea oil reserves are worth nearly half a billion dollars.

Delek heads the consortium that earlier this year discovered rich gas reserves approximately 50 miles west of Haifa, and estimates of the value of the gas have more than doubled since the first reports. Tshuva said last month that he foresees Israel becoming self-sufficient in energy in the near future, with the Jewish State possibly becoming an exporter of gas.

A discovery of large oil reserves would further an economic revolution in Israel, which has until now been dependent on foreign countries for oil and gas.

The term Dead Sea is a faulty translation of the Hebrew phrase "Salt Sea" as is written in the Bible. It refers to water that has the densest concentration of salt and other minerals in the world and is found at the lowest point on Earth. Although fish and plant life do not exist in the highly salty waters, its potassium and potash have made the Dead Sea Works one of the world’s largest exporters of the material used for fertilizers.