Though it may be grabbing the biggest headlines in the field, Ginko-Lapidoth is not the only group seeking out fossil fuels in Israel, and certainly not the first.
Some 470 oil and gas drillings have been carried out in the Holy Land in the past half-century, both by the Israel National Oil Company - privatized a decade ago as the Israel Oil Company (Hanal) - and private groups including Naphta, Lapidoth, Isramco and others.
According to a 1962 government report prepared by former Exxon chief geologist Lewis Weeks, between 500 million and 2 billion barrels of oil ultimately could be extracted from Israeli territory.
In 2000, Dallas, Texas-based Zion Oil & Gas was formed by founder and CEO John M. Brown to operate a small petroleum license on Israel's terra firma. Zion is following in the footsteps of Houston-based Isramco, formed in 1982 for exploration and operation of oil and gas properties in both the US and Israel.
Meanwhile, Toronto-based PetroMed PLC said Tuesday it received exclusive permit approval from the National Infrastructures Ministry to explore more than 3,500 square kilometers off the coast of Haifa for oil and gas deposits. PetroMed recently filed for a listing on Frankfurt's DAX bourse.
"PetroMed's short-term goal is to make Israel an independent producer of oil and natural gas, to cure Israel's energy deficit, and longer term to allow Israel to become a net energy exporter," the company said.
With a pre-drilling budget of $17.2 million through the first quarter of 2008, PetroMed will receive a drilling license for a five- to seven-year period. Once drilling proves successful, production certificates valid for 30 to 50 years would be granted, the company said.
Two years ago, US group Yam Tethys began producing and marketing natural gas sourced from a large deposit off the coast of Ashkelon, and also has said it intends to explore offshore sites in northern Israel. D.K.