For years, there was a joke in Israel: indications of oil are everywhere, but when anyone goes looking for it, there’s none to be found.
But with the discovery of two massive natural gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, the country has found itself with more energy resources than it has expertise to develop them, said Meir Shlomo, Israel’s consul general to the Southwest.
Until recently, any efforts to find oil and gas in Israel produced nothing but frustration, Shlomo said in an interview with The Oklahoman. While energy companies occasionally found small oil and gas deposits on land, the country had never had a large-scale discovery, Shlomo said.
“We’ve been searching for oil forever, but we never found anything,” he said.
But when the country began exploring offshore, it found two large natural gas fields — first the Tamar gas field in 2009, and then the Leviathan gas field in 2010. Since those discoveries, Israel has been able to supply its own domestic energy consumption, Shlomo said, and recently signed a contract allowing it to export natural gas to Jordan.
Based in Houston, Shlomo represents Israel in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. He was in Oklahoma this week to meet with energy industry leaders and to attend a performance Thursday in Edmond by the Haifa Symphony Orchestra of Israel.
During the visit, Shlomo met with officials from several energy companies, including Continental, Devon and ONEOK. Israel hopes to attract energy companies from the United States and elsewhere to do business there, Shlomo said. Israeli officials think there’s more gas to be found in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, he said.
“The opportunity is certainly there,” he said.
Some of the gas found in the Leviathan field will be exported to Europe and Asia, Shlomo said. The country is situated between those two markets, making exporting more convenient, he said.