Preparations for drilling underway at Golan Heights oil exploration site

Preparatory work began at a Golan Heights exploratory oil drilling site on Tuesday morning – advancing a project that was delayed by environmental opposition.

The project, which is being conducted by Afek Oil and Gas, involves three years of exploration for conventional oil using up to 10 wells. While the company has held a license for the project for the past 20 months, petitions against the activities put the plans on hold since September. But on Tuesday, the “dirt works” to prepare the first site for drilling were under way.

“It’s the preparation of the area where we’re eventually going to put the rig to work, to drill,” Afek Oil CEO Geoffrey Rochwarger told The Jerusalem Post over the phone, on his way to the site. “We hope that within the first two weeks of February we can start the actual drilling.”

After receiving its exploratory drilling license for a plot south of Katzrin in April 2013, the project earned approval at the Northern District Committee for Planning and Building on July 24 this year.

On September 1, however, Adam Teva V’Din (Israel Union for Environmental Defense) and a group of Golan Heights residents submitted a petition to the High Court of Justice, demanding the cancellation of the exploratory drilling project. In the petition, the complainants wrote that the petroleum in the region is likely “tight oil,” also known as shale oil, and would require nonconventional drilling procedures such as fracking – which could pollute groundwater and cause underground fluctuations.  Continue reading…

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