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BGU Students at Forefront of Israel’s Oil Exploration

BGU Students at Forefront of Israel’s Oil Exploration

October 21, 2015

Natural Sciences, Press Releases

A group of research students at BGU are at the forefront of oil and gas exploration in Israel, providing scientific analysis and support as part of the initial drilling program in the Golan Heights.


The drilling site in the Golan Heights

BGU students are working alongside faculty member Prof. Harold Vinegar, chief scientist of Afek Oil and Gas, a subsidiary of Genie Energy, Ltd., (NYSE: GNE, GNEPRA) headquartered in Newark, New Jersey.

Prof. Vinegar, now on the faculty of BGU’s Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, previously served as the chief scientist of physics at Royal Dutch Shell. He spent 32 years at Shell’s Bellaire Technology Center in Texas working on novel hydrocarbon exploration and production technologies.

“While you are drilling, it is nearly impossible to understand what you are seeing,” explains Prof. Vinegar. “We need the analysis of the materials. The BGU team is providing scientific research support that has cut the information turnover time down significantly and allows the exploratory work to be far more focused.

“In today’s world, we are able to use knowledge to reduce our footprint in nature and to ensure that we work in the greenest way possible.”

This fall, BGU is offering a program in petroleum geosciences, with an emphasis on conventional and unconventional resources, headed by Prof. Vinegar and Prof. Shimon Feinstein. Courses will range from the geochemistry of source rocks and fossil fuels to geophysical methods, petrophysics and rock mechanics, reservoir engineering for geologists, and the environmental implications of petroleum.

Afek has a license to explore for conventional oil over the next three years and preliminary findings have indicated the presence of hydrocarbons. Members of the BGU research team recently visited the NESS 3 drilling site in the Golan Heights at the groundbreaking or “spudding” of the well in the southern Golan Heights.

“We used information gleaned from a 1980s drilling site that was looking for water to decide where to drill,” explained Afek Chief Geologist Dr. Yuval Bartov at the site. He outlined the geological evidence that suggests the ancient volcanic activity of the region may have generated the heat for the production of oil in the late Cretaceous organic-rich period.

“BGU is also exploring possibilities to establish a Center for Petroleum Sciences and the Environment in the near future, based on the existing academic strengths in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences,” says Prof. Jiwchar Ganor, a geologist in the department and dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences.

About American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion’s vision: creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University’s expertise locally and around the globe. Activities include showcasing BGU’s academic excellence and cutting-edge research through educational programs, events and informative communications. AABGU’s main purpose is to support Ben-Gurion’s vision and the university that bears his name by creating a community of Americans committed to improving the world tomorrow from the heart of the Israeli desert today.

Media Contact:
Andrew Lavin
A. Lavin Communications