Afek Oil and Gas has been blocked from drilling for oil on the Golan Heights, at least for now.
The firm received a temporary injunction Tuesday at the High Court of Justice in response to a petition by Adam Teva V’Din, the Israel Union for Environmental Defense, and a group of local residents who opposed the drilling.
According to court papers, “the company is prohibited against building any facilities or conducting any ground-altering works within the perimeter of the territory defined in the license.”
The Northern Regional Planning and Building Committee had approved on September 11 a pilot plan for exploratory drilling in the Golan Heights, which was to start on September 28.
The area in question spanned some 396 square kilometers, from Katzrin in the north, extending southwards to allow the company to sink up to 10 exploratory wells, each taking up about 1.7 acres, or seven dunam. Company officials had no idea whether they would find oil in any of the exploratory sites, or not.
At this point it is not clear whether there will be a further appeal by the company.
Earlier this month, a committee voted in Jerusalem to block a pilot project in south-central Israel to check it out. An exploration that began in 2011 estimated that approximately 40 billion barrels of oil are sitting below the surface of the Ela Valley at a depth of approximately 200 to 400 meters.
After having started an initial exploration several years ago — one that was frozen in 2011 — the Jerusalem-based Israel Energy Initiatives firm wanted to move to a pilot project to determine its viability. The plan involved extracting a total of 500 barrels of oil — about two barrels per day — to see if the site was commercially viable.
The process that would be used involves a new technology never before used anywhere else in the world. It’s not “fracking,” which involves drilling for liquid oil. This involves converting the very rock itself into oil – a form of hydrocarbons — known as “oil shale.”