Canada, Israel sign energy deal6/26/2012
ALGARY — Canada and Israel are joining forces over energy.
The two countries signed an agreement on energy cooperation Tuesday that will allow for more collaboration over resource development projects and renewable power research. Joe Oliver, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, signed the agreement along with Israeli Energy and Water Resources Minister Uzi Landau in Tel Aviv.
Ahead of a news conference planned for Thursday, Mr. Oliver said in a statement there was “tremendous opportunities for Canada and Israel to cooperate more closely on energy issues.”
As reported in the Financial Post last week, Mr. Oliver flew to the Jewish state on Friday to discuss how Canada could help the country develop its recently discovered massive unconventional oil and gas deposits. Last year Israel discovered shale oil deposits that are believed to be among the largest in the world.
“Large underground oil shale formations have been discovered in Israel, its vast potential is currently being explored, and grounds are being prepared for an expansion of activities,” notes an excerpt from Tuesday’s agreement.
The London-based World Energy Council estimates the Shfela Basin, southwest of Jerusalem, contains up to 250 billion barrels of shale oil. The discovery places the country third globally in shale oil resources, behind just the United States and China, and rivals the 250 billion barrels of conventional oil reserves controlled by Saudi Arabia.
Offshore, the country is said to possess more than 16 trillion cubic feet of unconventional natural gas deposits.
A 1997 free trade agreement between Canada and Israel excludes areas such as professional services and financial investment. It is unclear whether this new agreement would effectively expand free trade access to those areas. Natural Resources Canada did not respond to a request for clarification nor did Israel’s Embassy in Ottawa respond to a request for comment.
Israel, which is dependent on imports for its energy, has little experience with natural resource development, particularly the capital and technologically-intensive process of extracting unconventional resources such as shale oil and gas. But the sector has been thriving in Canada for decades. Mr. Oliver believes Canadian knowledge and expertise could help Israel to quickly gain ground, which in turn could lead to a shift in the energy influence in the Middle East away from traditional power brokers such as the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries.
“OPEC has been dominant because conventional oil is concentrated in a few countries but as non-conventionalenergy is more dispersedly found, that is going to reduce that dominance and frankly that is good for the West and it is good for Canada,” he said in an interview last week.
“And with their recent finds, it is good for Israel as well.”
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