NEW YORK (Jan. 22)
Drilling operations for oil and natural gas in the center of Israel’s Negev desert were begun today on a concession licensed to Pan-Israel Oil Co., Inc., and Israel-Mediterranean Petroleum, Inc., it was announced by Palestine Economic Corporation here on behalf of the operators.
The first of a planned series of five shallow test wells was spudded in by Denver-Golden Oil and Uranium Co., of Denver, Colorado, which has contracted to carry out the drilling program over the next 12 months on a well-by-well option basis in return for a 50 percent working interest on the 80,000-acre concession area known as the Kurnub structure.
The object of the program is to evaluate the crystal portion of the Kurnub structure and a show of gas encountered on this structure four years ago when Pan-Israel drilled a dry hole to a depth of 9,000 feet. Located southwest of the southern tip of the Dead Sea, midway between the Jordanian and Egyptian borders, the Kurnub structure has evinced interest among oil geologists and oil companies for nearly half a century.
A spokesman for Palestine Economic Corporation, which is associated in the project with Denver-Golden one a joint venture basis, explained that its participation in the current exploration program was prompted by the challenging history of this structure and because of the discovery of natural gas on another structure within 15 miles of Kurnub. Before World War I, one of the world’s major oil companies showed an interest in this particular area, and preliminary work was carried out at a considerable expense by another major oil company. Iraq Petroleum Company, just before World War II.
According to Gerson H. Brodie, vice president and chief geologist of Denver-Golden, the show of gas and other data gathered in earlier exploration justify further wildcatting. On-the-spot operations are directed on behalf of Denver-Golden by Dr. George R. Downs, formerly a geologist with Carter Oil Co.