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The Oil-Shale Unit of the Judean Lowlands, Israel – Findings from a Prospection Study


IPGP - Îlot Cuvier


Séminaires Tectonique et Mécanique de la Lithosphère

Salle P07 Outremer

Ronen Gersman

Israel Energy Initiatives

The depletion of conventional oil reservoirs and the growing need for alternative energy sources have led companies world-wide to study and explore for unconventional oil sources, among them is oil-shale. “Oil-Shale” is the common name for sedimentary rocks which contain more than 5% total organic carbon, mostly in the form of kerogen. One of the largest oil-shale reservoirs on the globe is found at the Judean Lowland Basin (JLB) in Israel. Its estimated yield potential is about 250 billion oil barrels, compared with ~750 bbl of conventional oil throughout the entire Middle East. The Oil-Shale is found in a tight chalk layer of the upper cretaceous. A thick (>100m) chalk sequence, partly silicified, separates the unit from the underlying aquifer, which is the main source of potable water in Israel. The oil shale is overlaid by a 250-350m thick plastic-marlstone, clay and tight chalk, isolating it from the surface. The structure, stratigraphy and lithology of the basin make it exceptionally feasible for oil production using an In-Situ conversion process. The method is based on a gradual, in-situ heating of the rock (without the need for mining) to a temperature where the kerogen pyrolyses to lighter organic molecules. The light products (mostly methane, Liquid-Petroleum-Gases, gasoline, jet fuel and diesel) are then pumped to the surface, while the heavier residue and petroleum “cock”, are left in the rock. The ‘Israel Energy Initiatives’ company obtained a prospection license to evaluate the feasibility of oil production at the JLB using the ICP technology. Our study comprises of appraisal drillings, laboratory analyses and numerical modeling, all as a preparation for a short-term experimental in-situ oil production.