TEL AVIV (Nov. 28)
The government and private oil prospecting companies are moving rapidly to exploit what appears to be a major oil discovery in the Gulf of Suez Friday off A-Tur in the Israel occupied zone of Sinai. Upwards of IL 500 million will be invested in further drilling during the coming year, half of it by the government, it was learned today. The money is provided in the budget approved by the Cabinet yesterday.
According to Energy Minister Yitzhak Modai, the new oil strike will not be an impediment to an eventual peace agreement with Egypt. Modai told an Engineers Club luncheon here that if Israel returns Sinai to Egypt under the terms of a peace treaty, the oil could be brought to Israel by a pipeline. He disclosed that oil was struck at 4 a.m. local time Friday and the new well was producing about 130 barrels an hour. If drilling in the area yields additional wells, the oil field will be commercially feasible, he said.
The drilling was done by the Neptune Oil Prospecting Co., a Canadian firm that holds a 25 percent interest in the fields off A-Tur. The Israel owned Jordan Exploration Co. has a four percent interest and the balance is controlled by the Israel National Oil Corp. A-Tur lies 50 miles south of the Abu Rodeis oil fields that Israel returned to Egypt in 1975 under the second Sinai interim agreement. Neptune has been drilling in an off-shore sector known as Alma II. It will soon begin operations in Alma III to determine the size of the A-Tur field.