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Oil Discovery Would Revolutionize Israel’s Economy, Minister Says

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Emphasizing that oil search in Israel has moved from the preliminary stage of purely exploratory geological and geophysical work to actual test drilling, Levi Eshkol, Israel’s Finance Minister, said that “the discovery of oil would revolutionize” the economy of the Jewish State, hastening immediately its achievements of a self-supporting status.

The statement made by Mr. Eshkol was released today by the Israel Consulate here following the departure of Mr. Eshkol for Jerusalem. “Cheap oil power,” the statement stresses, “would enhance the successful exploitation of the Dead Sea chemical treasures, would enlarge the irrigable area of the country, and would lay the foundation for a petro-chemical industry.”

Israel’s oil legislation and regulations are patterned after the oil laws of the United States, Mr. Eshkol pointed out. “Acting upon the report of the late Max W. Ball, one of the deans of American petroleum geology, which stated that Israel had distinct oil possibilities, the Israel Government adopted a series of laws dividing the country into four prospecting districts, each of which was subdivided into a number of zones,” Mr. Eshkol stated.

According to Mr. Ball, each of the eight geologic provinces into which the country is divided by structural differences has oil possibilities differing in character and degree, Mr. Eshkol said. Test wells are being drilled by a number of private companies, including Lapidoth, Pan-Israel Oil Company, Inc., Israel Mediterranean Petroleum, Inc., Israel-American Oil Co. and Israel Continental Oil Co.

“The quest for oil in Israel is not a new phenomenon,” the Israel Minister explained. “Before the outbreak of the Israel-Arab hostilities, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Iraq Petroleum constructed a $500,000 road to proposed drilling sites in what is now southern Israel. We trust that the local and foreign companies that are exploring for oil will succeed in giving Israel’s oil potentialities the fair and thoroughgoing test which they require,” Mr. Eshkol concluded.

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