Israel Wants To Make Oil Out of Rock


An American energy company says that Israel is sitting on vast deposits of shale rock that can be turned into billions of barrels of oil. A Texan oil expert explains that by heating the earth to about 300°C oil and gas can be extracted out of shale rock.

Oil shale is made up of sediments that were deposited on the oceans’ floors millions of years ago. These sediments are made out of dead animals and plants.

World energy agencies predict that Israel could produce enough oil to last for 40 years. Israel has been searching for new forms of energy for a long time. Some natural gas was found off the coast but the country still is dependent on gas imports from Egypt. The new oil shale deposits lie in central Israel and the West Bank.


Israel imports nearly all the oil it needs, mostly from Russia and other former republics of the Soviet Union.  While the government is excited about new deposits of energy, many environmentalists are worried. On the one side they think that oil companies want to make money from Israeli rock and on the other side they are afraid that drinking water, which lies underneath the oil shale, could be contaminated because chemicals and water are pumped into the rock.

Energy specialists think that Israel may have oil reserves that are as large as those of Saudi Arabia. But it may not be so cheap to get at because oil in Saudi Arabia is real oil, whereas in Israel rock has to be processed to oil.  But even if only a few billion barrels are produced it is a lot of energy for a small country like Israel.


As prices for crude oil rise oil from shale rock may become an interesting alternative. It is thought that the world has four times more shale oil than crude oil.



Related Topics


  • agency = organization
  • barrel = a unit in which oil is measured = 159 litres
  • billion = a thousand million
  • contaminate = to be become dangerous and not useable; poisoned
  • crude oil = oil in its natural condition ; before it is made into petrol, gas and other liquids
  • dependent on = need
  • deposit = a layer of minerals or raw materials in the earth
  • environmentalist = a person who is worried about the world around us
  • extract = get out of
  • former = earlier
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • it is thought = experts think that
  • natural gas = gas that is found under the earth or under the ocean floor
  •  oil reserve = the amount of oil that is still under the earth
  • predict = foretell, foresee
  • process =to be made into
  • sediment = material that floats down to the bottom of an ocean
  • underneath = below
  • vast = very large
  • West Bank = land between Israel and Jordan  which the Israelis took in the 1967 war
  • whereas = while