Just as the United States has been able to make its way out of an energy crisis
and into “energy renaissance,” so too can Israel – as both countries move toward
achieving energy security, one of America’s wealthiest oil developers told The
Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
Harold Hamm, chairman and CEO of Oklahoma
City-based Continental Resources, is currently on a three-day tour of Israel
under the leadership of Samuel Eisenstat, co-chair with Hamm at the Council for
a Secure America – a sponsor of the tour and proponent of energy
While most members of the group hail from the American
South’s oil industry, a few eminent Israel advocates like former New York State
attorney-general Robert Abrams also joined in the tour, Eisenstat
“If America is energy independent it doesn’t have to cater its
foreign policy to oil,” Eisenstat said, regarding the relationship between
southern oilmen and Israel advocates.
Despite the profession of most of
the 15 participants, the trip focused mostly on promoting Israel among America’s
energy superpowers – taking them to sites like the Western Wall, a meeting with
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, holy Christian sites, Sderot and an air force
base. They did, however, also travel to the Weizmann Institute to see scientific
progress there, in order “to see that Israel more than an army camp,” explained
Eisenstat, who is also a trustee and audit chairman of the North European Oil
Royalty Trust and a former AIPAC president.
Serving as the director of
his company, Continental Resources, since its 1967 inception, Hamm has seen the
firm grow into “a top 10 petroleum liquids producer in the United States and the
largest leaseholder in the nation’s premier oil play,” according to company
In addition to serving as energy advisor to Mitt Romney
during his presidential campaign, Hamm is now the 30th-richest person in
American and the 76th-richest man in the world, according to Forbes magazine’s
In 1995, Continental Resources drilled the firstever
horizontal oil field in North Dakota’s Red River bed, a tight rock formation
with very limited permeability but containing 250 million barrels of oil, Hamm
told the Post.
“That led us into other thin bed reservoirs,” he
This experience eventually led the firm to horizontal drilling in
the Bakken Play of North Dakota and Montana – the largest field found in the
last 40 years internationally and containing over 24 billion barrels of
recoverable oil, Hamm added.
The finds at Bakken in 2003 are an ideal
model of “the energy renaissance” taking place in America, and the horizontal
drilling technique that accompanies the discoveries is a technology that “can
change the world,” Hamm noted.
“We think it’s good for America and
certainly it’s good for Israel,” he said. “We think energy independence is
certainly good for America and [for becoming] free from the OPEC dominance that
we’ve been under for last 50 to 60 years. We’re free to act.”
from the psychology that the US must abide by this influence, the country can
now have as warm relations with whomever it chooses, Hamm
“America will not have to kowtow to countries just due to the
fact that they have oil production in the future,” Hamm said.
2011 and 2012 alone, US oil imports dropped from 60 percent to 37 percent,
making Hamm believe that energy independence will be a reality in the next
decade or so.
Like in Israel, where elements of oil shale and natural gas
face the criticism of environmental organizations, Hamm acknowledged that he,
too, has faced such censure along the way. But with horizontal drilling, he
explained, one well can now replace eight conventional wells, and the surface
impact has become very minimal.
“It’s come a long way,” he said, noting
that continually fine-tuning technology is key to oil and gas
As far as Israel’s energy security goes, Hamm praised the
country’s natural gas exploration and the tremendous finds that have emerged in
the Mediterranean Sea.
“That’s going to bring them a long way to where
they need to be,” he said.
“I’m just mentally optimistic. Looking
back, America thought we were in perpetual decline with oil and now we find out
It’s not something you give up on – the technology has been