About a week ago, my UPI energy update feed provided an attention-grabbing headline Major reserve discovery confirmed in Golan Heights. The story subtitle was even more intriguing. Leadership of company behind the find seen as close to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.
According to the story, exploratory wells drilled by Genie Energy’s Israeli subsidiary, Afek Oil and Gas, found a layer of hydrocarbon-containing rocks that was 10 times as thick as the world wide average thickness of such rocks.
Other stories found in relatively minor or regionally focused publications have guessed that the discovery might contain enough oil and gas to supply Israel’s annual demand for many decades.
Here is a quote from the original UPI story that supports the subtitle claim.
Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney had served as an adviser to Genie. In a profile published by Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Genie CEO Jonas was described as one of the primary campaign supporters and U.S. allies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
With a little more searching, I found another thought-provoking article in MarketWatch from September 9, 2015, a month prior to the announcement about the discovery confirmation that was described in the UPI story. Though I have several feeds that bring me stories from MarketWatch on certain topics, this one apparently passed through those filters or did not capture my attention at the time it was published. Genie Energy (GNE) Announces Additions to Advisory Board.
According to the MarketWatch report, the additions to Genie Energy’s advisory board have some easily recognizable names. They are: Dr. Lawrence Summers, Governor Bill Richardson, Senator Mary Landrieu and R. James Woolsey. Those four join Richard Cheney, K. Rupert Murdoch, Lord Jacob Rothschild, and Michael Steinhardt.
Of that list, the only name I’d never heard before was Steinhardt. Here is the brief bio that MarketWatch published.
Michael Steinhardt — Noted Wall Street investor and Principal Manager, Steinhardt Management LLC. Founder Steinhardt, Fine, Berkowitz & Co., and noted philanthropist. Mr. Steinhardt serves as Chairman of the Strategic Advisory Board.
I realize that large oil discoveries are not uncommon and that they don’t always make headlines, but it seems to me that this one has enough potential impact on the world’s economy and geopolitical structure to be worthy of at least some punditry.
As far as I can tell, however, there has been little or no coverage in any major U.S. news outlet. That is despite the fact that my initial introduction to the story came from UPI, one of the world’s largest and most respected wire services.
I don’t watch much network or even business television news, so maybe this story has been the subject of discussions that I simply missed. However, search results on “Golan Heights oil” show no coverage in the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall St. Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, LA Times, or any other big city newspaper with significant international coverage.
If you have seen or heard something that I missed, please share it. I’m also interested in speculation about why the story appears to have failed to attract the attention of the news filterers here in the U.S.
Note: I hope you detect the ironic tone in the above. I’m well aware of the long running controversies about the intensely disputed territorial boundaries of the Golan Heights.
Haaretz October 11, 2015 – Genie Confirms Report of Possible Big Golan Oil Find