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Israel to Embark on Major Oil Exploration, Drilling Operations

Israel will invest large sums of money in an all-out attempt to find oil at both inland and off-shore drilling sites, according to discussions before the Knesset’s Economic Committee last night. The effort will also include a major re-organization of oil exploration and drilling operations, possibly in conjunction with foreign interests. The committee is considering the amelioration of Israel’s overall energy problems, including the development of nuclear energy sources.

Igal Horwitz, chairman of the Economic Committee, was sharply critical of the pace of oil prospecting in Israel. He urged that drilling projects should be accelerated at sites pin-pointed by oil geologists. He also claimed that the possibilities for collaboration with foreign companies and foreign investments in oil searches have not been sufficiently exploited.

Dr. Eli Rosenberg, a geological consultant, said that so far 151 drillings have been carried out in Israel at a total cost of some IL 300 million, including $40 million invested by foreign companies. But he said, compared to the widespread drilling operations carried out in other countries, Israel’s efforts to date have been meager and therefore the results so far were not encouraging.

Responding to Horwitz’s complaint that not enough initiative has been shown in planning and organizing the search for oil, Israel Lior, who is in charge of oil prospecting for the government, outlined a re-organization plan. He said a roof’ organization will be established to administer overall prospecting and to set work and purchasing priorities. He said the purchase of drilling equipment will total over IL 100 million in the coming year.

PROGRAM OF SEVERAL YEARS’ DURATION

A separate organization will deal with oil prospecting, field work and drilling operations. At the present stage, the Lapidot Co, will operate as a drilling contractor only while the Oil Prospecting and Investment Co, and Netivei Neft Ltd, will devote themselves to the search for new wells, Lior said.

He noted that plans called for drilling in various parts of the country and off-shore under a program of several years’ duration. He said negotiations were proceeding with foreign interests in connection with these plans. Lior cited the difficulty of obtaining drilling equipment because of widespread drilling operations all over the world. He said that deep drilling equipment was especially hard to find and was extremely expensive.

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