Greenpeace slams Israeli firm for oil plan

Environmental group calls Israel Energy Initiatives’s oil shale development plans “irresponsible.”

January 4, 2012 05:27
2 minute read.
An oil drilling rig [illustrative]

An oil drilling rig 311. (photo credit: Andrea De Silva / Reuters)


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Greenpeace on Tuesday slammed Israel Energy Initiatives’s oil shale development plans as “irresponsible.”

Earlier in the day, IEI had unveiled its final environmental report, in preparation for the pilot stage of its largescale project.

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“The pilot is an experiment, and when experiments begin no one can predict with certainty how it will conclude,” said Hila Krupsky, director of Greenpeace’s energy campaign, in a statement released by her office. “It is irresponsible to say with certainty that those who drink our water will not be contaminated.”

IEI intends in the coming months to begin the pilot stage for its in situ oil shale drilling and production project, which will heat shale rock at approximately 300 meters under ground until it becomes a lightweight, useable oil. Starting in the next decade, the company hopes to produce 50,000 barrels of oil per day for 25 years and help to secure Israel’s energy independence.

IEI CEO Relik Shafir told The Jerusalem Post during a meeting on Monday that there was no chance that the hydrocarbons from the shale could flow into the aquifer, which is located approximately 600 meters below the shale, with an impermeable rock layer in between the two. The drill’s impact could not possibly be high enough to fracture the rock below, he added.

But Krupsky countered that even if there were only a small chance of a mishap, Israel could not afford to endanger a resource as scarce as water, particularly for the production of fuel.

Shafir said, however, that Greenpeace had been unable to find “a single geologist or hydrologist to corroborate their claims,” and instead looked at information regarding gas shale extraction, which occurred at 3,000 meters below the ground rather than at 300, and was entirely unrelated to in situ oil shale drilling.


Calling the Greenpeace claim “misleading” and “totally erroneous,” he said that the Environmental Protection Ministry, the Health Ministry and the Water Authority had approved IEI’s claims. He acknowledged, however, that IEI would have to continuously prove its assertions during the pilot, “by drilling down below and showing that there are no hydrocarbons that are sipping down.”

But Krupsky said that the proper government body should be conducting these examinations itself, before a full-fledged trial took place.

“It is strange and scary that the Water Authority, which is supposed to monitor our water sources and protect them, is not conducting an examination process,” she said.

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