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Major reserve discovery confirmed in Golan Heights

Leadership of company behind the find seen as close to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Oct. 9, 2015 at 7:27 AM
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NEWARK, N.J., Oct. 9 (UPI) -- Genie Energy, a company with headquarters in the United States, confirmed it made a major discovery of oil and natural gas in the Golan Heights.

The New Jersey-based company said data from exploratory wells drilling into the area confirm what it said were "significant" quantities of oil and natural gas.

"We remain optimistic given the results to date," Genie Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Howard Jonas said in a statement. "We are now working diligently to determine the production costs and total quantity of the resource."

The company's Israeli subsidiary, Afek Oil and Gas, drilled into a column of reserves about 1,150 feet thick, about 10 times larger than the global average.

Genie said it lacks evidence to determine if the reserves in the Golan Heights can be technically or economically produced.

The Israeli Ministry of Energy and Water Resources awarded a drilling permit to Genie for territory in the southern Golan Heights in 2013. The company at the time estimated the reserve potential in a 150-square-mile southern portion of the Golan Heights was high.

Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney had served as an adviser to Genie. In a profile published by Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Genie CEO Jonas was described as one of the primary campaign supporters and U.S. allies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel annexed the southern part of the Golan in 1981, though the United States and most of the international community don't recognize the claims to sovereignty. Syria still claims the Golan and demands its return.

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