Tapping the Promised Land: Can Israel Be an Energy Giant?


One day in August 2009, a geologist named Yuval Bartov sank a drill into the ground southwest of Jerusalem, pulled up a cylinder of rock and, in the same motion, turned the world upside down. The rock contained oil, something that Israel has never had. The oil did not happen to be in liquid form, but the geologist knew someone with a plan to change that.

Bartov works with Harold Vinegar, an oil-industry legend who during a career as chief scientist for Shell helped pioneer methods to basically melt oil out of rock while it is still underground, then pump the liquid to the surface for collecting. Now, working for a company called Israel Energy Initiatives (IEI), both men are preparing to test the method in hopes of exploiting Israeli oil reserves that, in the form of rock, appear to be as large as the oil that…

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