Adonis Diaries

Archive for July 13th, 2012

Vast reserve of oil in Palestinian West Bank? And Israel want’s it all…

Apparently, Israel persistence in laying mythical religious claims on the Palestinian West Bank as “Not being under occupation”, but an integral part of Israel is due to vast reserve of oil in the West Bank.

Alex Rowell published on the BBC News this July 10, 2012, under “Does Israel walk a thin line with West Bank oil drill?“:

: Meged-5 oil field

It is not known how much commercially viable oil lies under Israel and the West Bank, but the Palestinian Authority has shown little interest in laying claim to it

“While the search for oil beneath Israel has been going on for years, the most recently drilled well in the Meged oil field, on the edge of the West Bank, is raising concern that it might draw from untapped Palestinian reserves.

After a 10-minute uphill hike through the rocky fields of the West Bank village of Rantis, we reach a summit where we rest, panting in the 40-degree heat.

A hundred metres in front of us lie the wired fence and gravel track of the Green Line – the perimeter of the West Bank and Israel.

To our left lies Ben Gurion airport; beyond that, Tel Aviv and the Mediterranean. But it is for a different view that we have come here.

Bilal, a Rantis local and student at Bir Zeit University, said: “It hasn’t been on for the last few days. And you can’t see too much in the daytime anyway. But at night – boof!” He gestures as though throwing a fistful of confetti into the air.

“Start Quote

Looking at the site of the flare, and the shape of the overall field, it’s clear that this extends into the West Bank”

Samer Naboulsi/veteran petroleum engineer at a leading oil firm in Dubai.

Samer is referring to the large black pipe inserted vertically into the earth, not more than 500 metres away, out of which a steady, blazing flame has been periodically sighted for about a year now.

It is in fact a gas flare, part of the Meged-5 oil well, owned and operated by Givot Olam Oil Ltd, currently the sole player in Israel’s tiny onshore oil and gas production sector.

Hafez Barghouti, editor of the Palestinian al-Hayat al-Jadeedah, who first broke the story in Ramallah recalls: “I happened to be driving past when all of a sudden I saw this huge flare on the Green Line. I was sure it must be gas. So I called the mayor of Rantis and he said, ‘Yes, the Israelis are drilling oil and gas.'”

‘No man’s land’

While this may seem uncontroversial on the face of it- the flare is, after all, within Israel proper – its proximity to the Green Line raises ethical questions.

Dr Samer Naboulsi resumes: “Geology doesn’t follow geography…Looking at the site of the flare, and the shape of the overall field, it’s clear that this extends into the West Bank. And even when extracting from the Israeli side, it’ll be draining Palestinian reserves.”


“This is why the international convention is to establish a ‘no man’s land’ – typically many kilometres wide – along national borders in which neither party may extract without the other’s consent.”

Dr Walid Khadduri, a former director at the Organisation of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) and editor-in-chief of the Middle East Economic Survey (MEES), had this to say on Israel’s unilateral approach:

“Ordinarily in such a situation, both parties would reach a mutual agreement to divide the field and the associated revenues and costs in an equitable manner. “This was the case between the UK and Norway, for example. Without such an agreement, things can get messy – look at Iraq and Kuwait,” he says, referring to Iraq’s 1990 invasion of its southern neighbour following a dispute over the transnational Rumaila field.

Moreover, the drilling would seem to contravene the Oslo Accords, which call for “co-operation in the field of energy, including an energy development programme, which will provide for the exploitation of oil and gas [and] will encourage further joint exploration of other energy resources”.

Green Line dividing Israel and the West BankThe oil field’s proximity to the Green Line dividing Israel (right of the path) and the West Bank has raised concerns

Givot Olam refused to comment, but an Israeli government official dismissed the claims as “yet another attempt to politicise everything”.

“We are engaging in exploratory digging within Israel. While we are hopeful, there is at present no conclusive indication as to whether commercially viable quantities will be found, or precisely where,” the unnamed official told the BBC.

“The commercial implications, including over the Green Line, are unknown. It is surprising that a Petroleum Engineer in Dubai already knows more than the people on the ground at this early stage.”

‘Highly profitable’

The Palestinian Authority (PA) meanwhile has shown little interest in pursuing what is potentially a substantial strategic and economic opportunity for the West Bank.

“Start Quote

Historically, there has never been a Palestinian oil industry. This is all very new”

Walid Khadduri, Ex-OAPEC director

A technical report issued by the UK-based consultant Greens and Associates in 2010 concluded that “the Meged Core Area has robust economics… and could be a highly profitable venture if the predicted well production volumes prove to be achievable and sustainable.”

The reserves of the Meged-5 well alone have been estimated by Givot Olam at over 1.5bn barrels – not a huge find but certainly enough to make a difference for the chronically energy-poor West Bankers (the UK, by comparison, has around 3bn barrels of proven reserves). The company says it extracted 800 barrels a day during a test period last year.

Yet there appears to be neither the will nor the ability on the Palestinian side to take action.

Mr Barghouti recalls: “I met [PA President Mahmoud] Abbas shortly after discovering the flare and told him about it. He shrugged. He wasn’t interested at all.”

A report in the Chinese state media, however, quoted PA official Abdullah Abdullah as condemning the drilling, saying the organisation “will not stay cross-handed. We will take urgent procedures that may include suing Israel in international courts.”

Even so, Mr Khadduri points out the considerable practical obstacles to an effective Palestinian initiative. “An obvious problem is that they simply don’t have the expertise. Historically, there has never been a Palestinian oil industry. This is all very new.”

And there is also the more fundamental question of whether Israel would recognise the Palestinians’ right to any part of the field in the first place.

“They regard that entire section of the West Bank as Israeli territory,” says Mr Barghouti. “Including Rantis. They refer to it as the ‘Kfar Sava area’.”

Mr Khadduri also says Israel has repeatedly derailed Palestinian efforts to extract gas from the sizeable fields off the coast of Gaza.

All of which suggests that a rare opportunity for mutually beneficial Israeli-Palestinian cooperation is likely to be missed.

Continue reading the main story

Crowd-sourcing: Not exclusive for intelligence gathering…Applied to social connection in Lebanon

Note: The structure of society in Lebanon is a big hurdle for people in communities to connect personally (face to face) and get to know one another.  The long civil war (17 years) exacerbated the division and the creation of exclusive cantons and subcantons…Mind you that Lebanon has 18 officially recognized religious sects with autonomy to regulate personal status from birth to grave…

Several dailies in Lebanon (French Orient Le Jour, Arabic Al Safir, and English The Daily Star…) and several TV channels covered two events in the coastal historic city of Jbeil (Kesruwan district) and Baakline (the Chouf). The initiator and project organizer Joanna Choukeir Hojeily had met with several municipalities in order to secure a public space for youth to meet and tell their stories (Khabrieh).

This social project was run under the banner of Imagination MARKET – سوق الخيال

Two dozen professional volunteers guided and pulled off this successful project…

Talks at AltCity

Stephen Dockery wrote in the Lebanese Daily Star on July 11, 2012 under “Crowd-sourced blog tries to cut through sectarian media”:

BEIRUT: A video shows a girl sitting and reading a school history textbook, but as she flips through page after page, all are blank. Instead of the typical heavily sanitized government history books on Lebanon, the pages are filled with nothing. (History stories to be written by the youth of Lebanon?)

Christine Abi Rached aimed to make this video as a starting point to ask people how they would like to see their country’s history told.

The video is presented on an experimental blog intending to wade through the country’s sectarian media landscape and as part of a larger project to bring divided communities together.

The news and public forum blog “Khabrieh,” (local short story), launched in a two-day trial over the weekend, serves as a curator of articles, photos and messages for anyone between age 18 and 30 who had something to say.

Joanna Choukeir Hojeily, a doctoral student in London Art Univ. said: “Instead of a third-party telling us about what’s in the country, why don’t we open a channel to let people tell us about what’s happening...What we really wanted to do is rather than tell people and deliver sound bites, we wanted to give them little experiences of the bigger picture…”  Joanna is helping cultivate ideas that bring the country’s divided society together.

After going live during a community building project in cities of Jbeil (Kesruwan district) and Baakline (the Chouf), the blog curators posted messages from interested locals and others.

The results were probing and indicative that a portion of the population is dissatisfied with society’s status quo, but are unsure where to go next.

“How do we live with Lebanese?” asked one essay.

“The Road to Conflict Transformation,” was the title of another.

Some posts asked simple questions about why citizens can’t receive basic services:

“We are Lebanese youth from Baakline, and we have a problem with electricity in our village. Public power only comes 2 hours per day,” read one post.

A black and white photo by 19-year-old Jade Ev Nasser shows a man perched on the seashore.

The blog is part of a package of community building projects that a group of volunteers created while working with Joanna. The projects were presented together during events in Jbeil and Baakline.

Other projects included trilingual karaoke, sectarian role-playing and marriage information games to shed light on the social and legal barriers separating people in the country.

In the areas where the activities were run, visitors could participate in each project that tried to get them to think about pressing topics in the country.

Joanna said:“ We are hopeful the youth will start reflecting on their own situation without waiting for anyone telling them what was right or wrong….”

Joanna hopes her work will serve as a starting point for her volunteers to show that their new ideas can be successful, and the projects will turn into long-term ventures to work toward the main goal “to help young people in Lebanon integrate better along social, religious and demographic divides.”

Jean-Eudes MIAILHES wrote in L’Orient Le Jour on July 10 under: “Appel de la jeunesse libanaise : le marché de l’imagination, une initiative citoyenne porteuse ?”  

Quelque 30 jeunes ont contribué à des ateliers sur le Liban et ses failles.
Quelque 30 jeunes ont contribué à des ateliers sur le Liban et ses failles.
“Sous le signe de l’intégration et de la mobilité, les municipalités de Byblos et de Baakline ont accueilli le week-end dernier le marché de l’imagination (Imagination Market).
Ce marché, qui n’a rien à voir avec la vente de fruits et légumes ou autres mets comestibles, propose aux Libanais des ateliers sur le Liban et ses défaillances autour des thèmes du mariage mixte, de la relation entre le politique et l’amitié, des régions et de la mobilité, des médias et de leur influence, du langage et des préjugés.
Répartis sur cinq pôles, les bénévoles ont animé pendant ces deux jours des ateliers interactifs sur ces thèmes.
Né à l’automne 2008, ce projet s’inscrit dans le cadre du doctorat de Joanna Choukeir à l’Université des Arts de Londres. Suite à une phase de recherche durant laquelle elle a interrogé 56 Libanais originaires de diverses régions, la jeune doctorante a constaté que les cinq problèmes susmentionnés atomisent la société libanaise pour la rendre inerte.
Joanna said: « Au Liban, on parle beaucoup de problèmes, mais on ne peut rien faire. Les Libanais, s’ils ont un peu d’imagination, peuvent changer, trouver des solutions ».  Dès lors, elle a décidé de s’investir et de créer « un espace de cocréation », Imagination Studio, dans lequel collaborent quelque 30 bénévoles.
Cet espace, explique leur site officiel, a pour objectif de « soutenir la jeunesse libanaise de diverses régions, avec différentes expériences, à travers différentes disciplines et par différents réseaux, et imaginer ensemble l’inimaginable pour un Liban plus intégré et moins divisé ». Et d’ajouter que « notre but est d’impliquer davantage la jeunesse avec les autres en dehors de leur groupe social à l’école, à l’université, au travail, à la maison et au sein de leur communauté ».
Pour Habib, ami de Joanna et bénévole, la mobilité est ici un véritable défi. Il estime que « les préjugés des autres gens, des autres religions » ont des conséquences néfastes sur l’intégration au Liban. Conquis par le projet, il a alors décidé de s’impliquer dans ce domaine. C’est avec amusement qu’il confronte les Libanais à leur géographie.
À terme, cette initiative citoyenne devrait de nouveau se reproduire, puisque, selon les dires de Joanna, « d’autres municipalités ont été intéressées » par le projet” End of article in Orient Le Jour

Note 1: You may access the blog of Joanna Choukeir Hojeilyposted toIMAGINATION MARKET – سوق الخيال (July 7-8) Jbeil and Baakline




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