The Serious and the Buffoons

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I like to congratulate countries that, unlike ours, take energy policy seriously. Serious energy policy simply means that you seriously try to find and exploit new energy sources, using reality-based rather than delusional thinking.

Our present administration, which cherishes the delusion that noisy, ugly, and inefficient windmill farms and costly, ugly, and inefficient solar panel farms will allow us to dispense with oil, gas, and coal, is the paradigm case of unserious (i.e., joke) policy makers.

For being serious, kudos should go to Israel. As noted by the Wall Street Journal on Dec. 30, it has encouraged extensive exploration for fossil fuels off its shoreline, and the search has paid off prodigiously. The most recent discovery may tip the Mideast balance of power in Israel’s favor. A huge field of natural gas, aptly called Leviathan, apparently contains 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (according to Noble Energy, the American firm developing it). That field alone could supply Israel’s gas needs for a century. It might even make Israel a net energy exporting country.

Leviathan was found in the vicinity of smaller fields discovered earlier in the Levant Basin, an area of Mediterranean seabed off the coasts of Israel and Lebanon. The first two fields, Noa and Mari, discovered in 1999 and 2000 respectively, together contain about 11 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The Tamar and Dalit fields, both discovered in early 2009, together contain about 9 trillion cubic feet.

The US Geological Survey estimates that the Levant Basin holds a total of 122 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, not to mention 1.7 billion barrels of oil. To put that in perspective, the Levant Basin’s estimated gas reserves are nearly half of what America’s entire natural gas reserves are thought to be.

These huge fields, together with Israel’s laws favoring energy exploration and development, caused the Israeli energy sector stock index to soar 1,700% in 2010. They also led to Lebanon’s passing laws to develop its share of the Levant Basin.

A second story appeared in the Journal on Dec. 31. It reports that even as our unemployment rate hovers near 10% and the price of gasoline continues to rise, the harlequins in the Obama administration have issued a directive sealing off even more lands from productive exploration. This directive requires the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to search its huge holdings to find “unspoiled” back country that it can then decree to be “wild lands” and lock away from development of any kind.

This may block from use many millions of acres of land in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, and everyplace else where the feds own land. (The BLM supervises 250 million acres of land!) You can just forget about the uranium, oil, natural gas, and other valuable resources of the areas the BLM shuts down.

The BLM used this power freely back in the 1970s and 1980s, but in 2003, after a lawsuit from the government of Utah, it relinquished the power. Now Obama, having lost his legislative power, is trying to build up the executive power necessary to carry out his jihad against carbon energy, and reverse the 2003 decision. He seems to think that shortages of — and high prices for — energy are the keys to economic prosperity.

All this inclines me to say “Mazel tov!” to the Israelis, and “Go to hell!” to the Obamanista environmental extremists, who are trying to choke off this nation’s energy.




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Visitor

Mr. Jason, some of the reserve estimate figures you cite here are misleading. The USGS figure for the Levant Basin refers to potential resources, not proven reserves, so your comparison to US reserve figures is inaccurate. USGS resource estimates are highly preliminary and are often vastly overstated. The notion that Israel has half the amount of US gas reserves is simply not true. Furthermore, the Israeli parliament has approved revisions to the hydrocarbon law that would nearly double government take (royalties and corporate tax) from gas production - which would be a serious disincentive for future investment. Your optimism on Israeli energy policy is misplaced.

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