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Israel Announces Discovery of “very Rich” Gas Well in Dead Sea Area

Discovery of a gas well described as “very rich,” in drilling in an area just west of the Dead Sea, in Southern Israel, was announced here tonight by the Naptha National Oil Company.

The new strike is the fourth gas well brought up by the drilling, and at least five more drillings are now envisaged by the company’s geologists. The latest well yields, gas of very rich, almost pure methane, content, the experts said. It may be usable for large industrial enterprises like power stations, or as raw material for the petrochemical industry.

Following the announcement of the new gas discovery. Finance Minister Levi Eshkol told a press conference that Israel is now planning construction of a gas pipeline to the Dead Sea potash works which are now using large quantities of oil-gas and other fuels. The pipeline would be about 18 miles in length, of four-inch diameter, and would cost about 700, 000 Israeli pounds.

A still more ambitious plan envisages the laying of a gas pipeline from the new gas field to Ashdot to supply the local power station with fuel, as well as to provide fuel for large industries in Oron, where phosphates are produced, and for the clay industry at Beersheba. The new gas field will be named “Zohar.”

Other companies having concessions in the area will be compelled, under the law, to start drilling within six months after the field has been officially proclaimed, Government circles declared.

Discovery of the new, rich gas field came almost four years since the first discovery of oil in the Heletz area which now produces about 120, 000 tons of oil annually, some 10 percent of Israel’s consumption. If gas is used, Israel would be producing 18 percent of its domestic fuel needs.

Twenty percent of the Naptha National Oil Company is owned by Solel Boneh, a division of Histadrut, Israel’s Federation of Labor; 25 percent is owned by private investors: 25 percent by the Mekoroth Water Company, a joint venture by the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Fund and Hevrat Ovdim as a non-profit utility for the development of major irrigation projects: 10 percent is owned by various kibbutzim, eight percent by the Ampal, American Israel Corporation, and the remainder by smaller shareholders.

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