NEW YORK – A huge deep-water natural gas find off the coast of Israel promises to be a boon to the Jewish state's economy as well as a stimulus to other developers searching for offshore oil and natural gas in the Mediterranean.
Noble Energy, a New York Stock Exchange-listed company, has discovered an estimated more than 3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in three high-quality reservoirs drilled in the company's Tamar No. 1 well in the Mediterranean Sea, about 56 miles off the Israeli northern port of Haifa.
Noble Energy drilled the Tamar No. 1 well to a depth of about three miles, beneath 5,500 feet of water.
The find is significant for those who believe the Bible indicates Israel is sitting on a massive oil reserve that would reshape the geopolitical structure of the Middle East.
The find also lends support to the abiotic theory of the origin of oil that holds oil is created naturally within the mantle of the earth, not by biological origins.
"We are the only company producing natural gas off the Israeli shore," Noble Energy spokesman Brad Whitmarsh told WND. "We also drill for gas in the Mari-B field, offshore closer to southern tip of Israel in shallower water."
The Tomar site is estimated to be three times as large as the Mari-B natural gas field off Israel's southern shore that analysts estimate may reach depletion within five years, according to a report published by Israel12c.org.
"We have built a considerable acreage position offshore Israel and have been working this area for years," he said. "The area around the Tomar has been largely undrilled and unexplored. Tamar was the first we have drilled, and when we started, we estimated we only had about a 35 percent chance of success."
"Tamar represents our first exploratory well offshore Israel in more than five years, and we are extremely excited by the results," Charles D. Davidson, Noble Energy's chairman, president and CEO said in a press release published on the company's website.
"This is one of the most significant prospects that we have ever tested and appears to be the largest discovery in the company's history," he continued.
"We are witnessing an historic moment in Israel's energy market," Israel's National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer told Reuters. "If it turns out in a few weeks that the indicators received in recent days are true, then we are talking about the biggest find in Israel's history."
Israel's Petroleum Commissioner Yaakov Mimran told Reuters that if early finds are validated the site would meet Israel's demand for 15 years.
"If the Tamar site opposite the Haifa coast succeeds in producing the significant quantities of natural gas predicted, we are talking about a revolution which will have an impact on the Israeli economy for the coming generations," Dan Halman, CEO of Halman-Aldubi Group told the Jerusalem Post.
"The vast reservoir is poised to bring down electricity prices, reduce the country's dependence on gas from foreign countries, in particular from Egypt, and thereby turn Israel from a gas importer into a gas exporter," Halman said.
Analysts told Reuters the natural gas find at Tamar No. 1 was worth an estimated $26 billion and would be available for market starting in 2013.
Nobel Energy holds a 36 percent working interest in the Tamar No. 1, with other owners including the following: Isramco Negev 2 with 28.75 percent; Delek Drilling with 15.625 percent; Avner Oil Exploration with 15.625 percent; and Dor Gas Exploration with the remaining 4 percent.
The Tamar No. 1 site was named after the granddaughter of Israeli geologist Yossi Langotsky, who played a key role in locating the site.
Noble Energy stock closed Thursday at 48.03, down 1.63.
The 52-week range for the stock, according to Yahoo! Finance, is 30.89 to 105.11.