Oil Companies Want to Drill in the Desert

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CBNNews.com - JUDEAN DESERT - On Tuesday, two Israeli energy companies that want to drill for oil in the Judean Desert will present their plan to the Nature and Parks Authority general assembly, which can grant or deny their request.

Ginko Oil Exploration and Delek Energy Systems say the same plan was approved 10 years ago.

"We are talking about drilling in a spot that the Authority had already approved drilling there 10 years ago, and we requested that spot because we thought they'd approve it again, said Ginko director Rami Karmin.

"We need 1.25 acres out of 150,000 for two months so we can drill an exploratory hole 2,000 meters [yards] down. We had an ecological company evaluate the area. There have also been other exploratory holes in [near] the Dead Sea and you can't even see them anymore," he said.

But Israel's Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPINI) say even exploratory drilling will damage the ecosystems in the Judean Desert nature reserve. And, they argue, if the drilling is successful, the infrastructure that would follow would cause irreparable damage to the area.

SPINI also says the projected 6.5 million barrels that the companies anticipate would meet the country's needs for less than a month.

Critics charge that rather than considering the damage to the desert's fragile ecosystems, the energy companies are eyeing the profits.

"Six-and-a-half million barrels is worth about $800 million," Karmin said. "The government would be receiving about $400 million in fees and taxes. Can we really afford to turn down that much money," he asked.

Karmin said if the committee votes against granting permission for them to drill, they will seek alternative legal means to secure the permits.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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