What a difference a well makes
Walter Russell Mead writes that Israel's natural gas and oil discoveries are already starting to make a difference in how the Jewish state is treated, and things should only improve in the future.
Israel and Canada have just signed an agreement to cooperate on the exploration and development of what, apparently, could be vast shale oil reserves beneath the Jewish state.
The prospect of huge oil reserves in Israel comes on top of the recent news about large natural gas discoveries off the coast that have been increasingly attracting attention and investor interest. The apparent gas riches have also been attracting international trouble. Lebanon disputes the undersea boundary with Israel (an act somewhat complicated by the fact that Lebanon has never actually recognized Israels existence), and overlapping claims from Turkey and Greece themselves plus both Greek and Turkish authorities on Cyprus further complicate matters. Yet despite these tensions, following Russian President Vladimir Putins surprisingly cordial visit last week, Gazprom and Israel have announced plans to cooperate on gas extraction.
This suggests at a minimum that Turkish efforts to block gas development in the region will face opposition from Russia as well as from Israel. Gazprom and other Russian companies are also likely to do well in any gas exploration deals developed with the strongly pro-Moscow (and very cash hungry) Greek Cypriot government.
The new Israeli-Russian agreement is part of a conscious strategy by the Israeli government to use its nascent energy wealth to improve its embattled political position. With Italy reeling under the impact of big wrong-way bets on Iran, Rome may also begin to appreciate the value of good ties with a closer and more dependable neighbor. Another sensible target for Israeli energy diplomacy would be India: the two countries are already close in a number of ways, including trade and military technology, and India is eager to diversify its energy sources.
Gas is one thing, but potential for huge shale oil reserves under Israel itself, however, is a new twist. According to the World Energy Council, a leading global energy forum with organizations and affiliates in some 93 countries, Israel may have the third largest shale oil reserves in the world: something like 250 billion barrels. (The US and China are both believed to have larger shale oil reserves, with the US believed to have the equivalent of well over 1 trillion barrels of potentially recoverable shale and China having perhaps one third of that amount. Canadas Athabaskan oil sands reserves may contain the equivalent of 2 trillion of barrels conventional oil, or more than all the conventional oil known to exist in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran combined.) If the estimates of Israeli shale oil are correct, Israels gas and shale reserves put its total energy reserves in the Saudi class, though Israels energy costs more to extract.
Wouldn't it be funny if the only way that the Arab Muslims could influence world oil prices would be by undercutting everyone else's oil that is more expensive to produce?
And guess who the big loser is?
Turkish planing of indigenous projects
Turkey is not like China. Turkey is, just like Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal.