(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel petitioned the High Court of Justice on Tuesday to halt activities at a commercial oil-drilling venture in the center of the country, claiming the activities are occurring contrary to the law.
In the petition, SPNI argued that for several years, Givot Olam Oil Exploration – Limited Partnership has been producing oil at a commercial scale at their Meged 5 drilling site, as well as conducting additional drilling activities at the Meged 6 site, without any planning framework to regulate these operations.
Despite environmental sensitivities in the region, drilling has been allowed to continue for years without any public input on the matter, the green group argued.
“Since 2009, the drilling has been operating contrary to the law, since the activities were never regulated from a planning perspective,” the petition said.
“Until the approval of a detailed plan that includes the development of the Meged field, the court is asked to order the cessation of any drilling activity in Meged 5 and Meged 6.”
Since the 1990s, Givot Olam has held an exploration license on a 240-square-kilometer plot of land near Rosh Ha’ayin, called the Meged Oil field.
Over the years, it has drilled a number of exploratory wells in the area – Meged 2, Meged 3, Meged 4, Meged 5 and Meged 6.
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In 2004, following the positive results of exploratory drilling carried out at Meged 4, Givot Olam received a lease from the petroleum commissioner for the development of the larger Meged oil field, according to information from the company. By 2009, Meged 5 was drilled and commercial quantities of high-quality crude oil were generated, leading to the start of commercial production in 2011, the firm said.
“These wells are operating in a national ecological corridor above the Yarkon-Taninim Aquifer, national public assets that are irreplaceable, and are endangering them – without granting members of public the chance to express their opinions about them,” the SPNI petition said.
The petition went on to slam the relevant government authorities, as well, for failing to “work to repair the damage.” No comprehensive planning arrangements with regard to the drilling have been implemented, despite the drilling going on in the area, the green group stressed.
The production sites in question are located southeast of the Elad community, south of Nahal Shiloh, in the area known as “Hadom Hashomron,” SPNI explained. This area is southeast of both Rosh Ha’ayin and Petah Tikva, and just west of the Green Line. There, SPNI argued, is a territory critical to the survival of certain flora and fauna.
Givot Olam had not responded to the petition by press time.
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