Category: Gog-Ezekiel 38 & 39

Israel, Cyprus gas finds spur Mediterranean race

Israel’s biggest gas discovery, potentially turning the fuel importer into an exporter, is prompting a race by nations from Lebanon to Turkey to tap similar deposits in disputed waters of the East Mediterranean.

Noble Energy is developing the Leviathan and Tamar fields off Israel that hold about 30 trillion cubic feet of gas, more than triple the UK’s remaining reserves and worth about $670 billion at today’s prices. The Houston-based company also is behind the Aphrodite discovery off Cyprus.

With the US estimating the region holds about 122 trillion cubic feet of gas, enough to supply the world for one year, Lebanon and Turkey stepped up prospecting. Territorial disputes will have to be resolved first or the potential will remain untapped.

“All sides are looking at the eastern Mediterranean in a new light, but at the same time border disputes remain very important,” said Charles Gurdon, managing director of London- based risk assessor Menas Associates. “In the end, most of these cases will have to go to international arbitration.”

Countries in the region will have to temper disputes over maritime borders and sovereignty before companies such as BP, Total and Royal Dutch Shell can realize its potential as an export hub, according to the Observatoire Mediterraneen de l’Energie, an industry group.

“Joint exploitation of resources may change the whole political situation for the benefit of the region,” said Sohbet Karbuz, an oil and gas director at OME. “Energy can also become an extension of politics by other means.”

The Lebanese-Israeli maritime border remains undefined

Lebanon and Israel have no defined maritime border, while Turkey doesn’t recognize the Greek Cypriot-led government of the Republic of Cyprus and relations with Israel have soured since Turkish activists died on a Gaza-bound flotilla two years ago. Tensions boiled over when Turkey sent an exploration vessel accompanied by warships and jets to stop Cyprus drilling for oil and gas last year.

“The sides are implacably opposed, whether it’s northern and southern Cyprus, whether it’s Turkey and Cyprus, whether it’s Israel and Lebanon,” said Gurdon at Menas, which advises Exxon Mobil Corp., BP and Chevron Corp. among others. “In the end, people want to determine where the territory starts and stops.”

Cyprus will award permits covering 12 offshore blocks south of the island in its second licensing round, open for bids until May, according to Solon Kassinis, director of the energy service at the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism. Turkey also plans to start drilling for oil off northern Cyprus later this month, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said in Istanbul today.

Egypt is planning to hold a licensing round in the Mediterranean after the Leviathan and Aphrodite discoveries, Gurdon said in a presentation in London today.

Gas discoveries in the Mediterranean abundant

The East Mediterranean could become the “second North Sea” following Cyprus’s first offshore gas discovery last year, Kassinis said.

“The Lebanese have systematically refused to talk to us about border issues, whether territorial or maritime, and have unilaterally submitted their claims to the UN,” said Yigal Palmor, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman. “We therefore have no choice but to submit our own claims to the UN as well, but the preferred solution is obviously direct negotiations.”

The North Sea, where Britain and Norway pump most of the oil and gas, is the world’s sixth-largest supplier of crude. While it still holds more than 26 billion barrels of oil equivalent resources, extraction peaked at the beginning of the last decade, UK government data show.

Israel, Cyprus considering pipeline

As North Sea production declines, energy producers are looking to other regions, including the Mediterranean, to meet rising gas demand as countries seek alternatives to Russian supplies.

Cyprus is working with Israel, 480 kilometers south across the Mediterranean Sea, on the potential construction of a pipeline to connect their gas fields. The link would allow the countries to meet domestic demand before liquefying the fuel for export, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on February 16.

Israel is examining plans to ship liquefied natural gas, or LNG, as far as Asia after 2018, said Gerry Peereboom, a director at Noble Energy. Israel may also pump gas to Egyptian LNG plants, said Raafat El-Beltagy, deputy chairman of Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Co. LNG Exports

“Israel is now in the position to decide whether they’ll allow the companies that hold these gas resources for export to the international market,” said Richard Quin, an analyst on the Middle East and North Africa at Wood Mackenzie Consultants Ltd. “The challenges of exporting LNG from Israel are quite substantial. It could easily be a decade for exports actually to happen.”

The Aphrodite field spans waters between Cyprus and Israel. Noble and other international oil companies have stayed away from northern Cypriot waters as tensions with Turkey persist, maintaining divisions that have split the island since Turkey invaded the north in 1974. Turkey has said development projects should await resolution of Cyprus’s political status.

“The issue of Turkey remains absolutely critical, because Turkey doesn’t recognize Cyprus’s rights” to award licenses, Menas’s Gurdon said. “Turkey may adopt gunboat diplomacy and it may be difficult for Cyprus to search for and develop fields which are close to northern Cyprus.”

The European Union, which only recognizes the Republic of Cyprus, has withheld elements of Turkey’s EU membership talks as it calls on the country to acknowledge the island nation and help resolve its ethnic divisions. Turkey has said it’s open to collaboration to exploit the region’s resources and market the fuel abroad.

Turkey seeks to maintain status as energy gateway

“Potential cooperation may at last bring peace and stability to the region,” said Ayse Berris Ekinci, acting deputy director for energy at Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Turkey represents the safest, most feasible and affordable gateway for the eastern Mediterranean natural gas resources to the European markets.”

Turkey’s state oil producer Turkiye Petrolleri AO struck an agreement with Shell in November to explore off the city of Antalya, away from Cypriot waters. Turkey has also received interest from companies including Exxon Mobil, BP, Chevron, Total and ConocoPhillips to explore in its east Mediterranean waters, according to the Energy Ministry.

Cyprus is due to take over the EU’s rotating presidency on July 1, potentially boosting its clout in negotiations. The island’s Aphrodite discovery is only 65 kilometers from Israel’s Leviathan field, the world’s biggest offshore gas find of 2010. The Tamar field off Israel, discovered a year earlier, is due to start output next year.

“The latest discoveries will certainly be a source of dialogue between the countries,” said Rob West, a London-based oil analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. “It’s just not clear whether the dialogue will involve disputes over resource entitlement or rather cooperation.”

Claims over gas fields in the region’s Levant Basin extend to Lebanon, Israel’s northern neighbor and 100 miles across the sea from Cyprus.

Lebanon has said some Israeli fields may stretch into its waters and has asked the United Nations to intervene to prevent a conflict over exploration areas as the country gears up for its first offshore oil and gas bidding round this year. Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which fought a war with Israel in 2006, has repeatedly pledged to protect the nation’s offshore resources.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3435

Israel Strikes Oil Off Tel Aviv Coast

Israel has struck oil again, this time off the Tel Aviv coast. Developers maintain the find includes 100 million barrels of oil, worth $10 billion.

Modiin Energy and Adira Energy discovered an estimated 128 million barrels of oil and 1.8 trillion cubic feet of gas in their Gabriella and Yitzhak licenses, in shallow water less than 15 miles northwest of Tel Aviv.

Officials called the find “significant” and added, “Surveys conducted in recent months found oil in the target strata. The potential oil reservoir is 128 million barrels of oil, and the contingent reserves are an additional 120 million barrels.”

“Bottom line, there is oil. It’s 100 percent. Secondly, the quantities are commercial,” said Tzachi Sultan, controlling shareholder of Modiin.

The Gabriella license is near shore in shallow water. “At a time of soaring oil prices, this is good news for IDB, Modiin, Adira, said Chaim Gavriella, CEO of the IDB  holding company that owns most of Gabriella’s shares.

The oil was defined as “ high quality” and reportedly can be extracted even easier than the gas.

The amount of oil is estimated to meet Israel’s needs for 18 months, in addition to other energy finds in the Tamar and Leviathan fields off the Haifa coast. Companies developing those fields say there is enough gas and perhaps oil to turn Israel into an exporter.

Sultan said drilling will begin by the end of the year and that it will take approximately five years for the first well to start producing oil.

Adira CEO Jeffrey Walter was ecstatic. “I said that I came to find oil and gas and was laughed at. I was told that there is no oil here. They were wrong,” he told Globes.

The discoveries of oil and gas are expected to provide thousands of new jobs for engineers and others needed to work on infrastucture, and the forecast ability of Israel to be self-sufficient could eventually lead to a large decline in domestic fuel prices and a stronger shekel.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3252

Gog’s Evil Thought

Interesting article from Terry James of Rapture Ready.com. Enjoy!

Gog’s “Evil Thought”

By Terry James
One can sense the dark, coalescing thoughts that are going on within the 2012 presidential election cabals. No, I’m not talking about the U.S. presidential election smoke-filled, back-room wheeling and dealing. Rather, I refer to the intrigues that are no doubt presently taking place in the political chambers of Moscow. A very interesting Russian politician we all know about sits snugly ensconced within the seat of power at the Kremlin, despite the façade he and his fellows present that he is candidate for the Russian presidency. Mysterious doings revolve around this self-promoting, sixty-year-old former KGB officer with his ongoing macho performances, both actual and of questionable credibility.

We remember his photo ops on the shores of the Black Sea and other places where he proudly displayed his six-pack abs. Then, there is the story where he single-handedly dove into the depths of some body of water, then came up with hands full of treasure—treasure that no one, not even professional marine salvage crews were previously able to find.

Vladimir Putin, although officially in a secondary position within the Russian governmental system because of constitutional restrictions regarding succession, nonetheless moves ahead paying scant attention to the fact that he has not yet been elected once again to the nation’s top post. There is little observable opposition to his power-brokering and manipulations, either officially or unofficially. It is as if his is a predestined leadership imperative for his most prophetically significant nation.

One billionaire Russian accuses Putin of trying to reprise a system at least somewhat similar to the Soviet Union, and is opposing Putin’s campaign for the Russian presidency, but isn’t making much headway. One wonders just how long such opposition will be allowed, when considering the recent track records of those who opposed ol’ Vlad. Many of these are in gulag—or are no longer among the living.

A couple of recent news items piqued my interest regarding this man who so dominates the news coming out of the country that many of us who observe prophetic movement believe will be the nation that will lead the Gog-Magog attack of Ezekiel 38-39. Putin’s thinking about Russia’s future differs from the Soviet model in some significant ways, according to one of those articles. At the same time, I find Putin’s emphasis on economy particularly fascinating. His thought is not necessarily on taking over nations surrounding Russia, but in sucking those nations into an inescapable fiscal orbit. The news story explains:

Vladimir Putin has a vision for a Soviet Union-lite he hopes will become a new Moscow-led global powerhouse. But, his planned Eurasian Union won’t be grounded in ideology: This time it’s about trade.

The concept of regional economic integration may be losing some of its allure in Europe, where a debt crisis is threatening the existence of the eurozone. But some countries across the former Soviet Union, still struggling economically 20 years after becoming independent, are embracing Putin’s grand ambition…

In anticipation of a new six-year term as president, Putin has made forming a Eurasian Union by 2015 a foreign policy priority. He is promoting the union as necessary for Russia and its neighbors to compete in the modern global economy. His broader goal is to restore some of Moscow’s economic and political clout across former Soviet space and thus strengthen Russia’s position in the world… (Peter Leonard, Associated Press, ” Russia’s Putin Dreams of Sweeping Eurasian Union,” 1/3/12)

Mr. Putin’s thought, obviously, is to convince those he hopes to lure within his orbit that great economic gain is a possibility in such a coalition as he will put together once he is president of Russia. This kind of thinking, of course, might just be the nucleus around which could be built a much more ambitious and volatile plan of action. Might that plan include a future invasion to the south as outlined in the Ezekiel 38-39 prophecy?

Certainly, that prophecy indicates an ambitious and volatile plan of action following the Magog coalition leader’s “evil thought” of Ezekiel 38:10-12. Until relatively recently, Israel has had little prospect for great wealth of the sort indicated in this prophecy that would entice such a thought or action by enemies to the north. Oh, there has long been talk of great mineral wealth in the Dead Sea, which is within the territory of the tiny nation of Israel today. But there seems to be little interest of Israel’s enemies in those very uncertain riches. But, such wealth as would be sufficiently enticing to provoke that future “Gog” to think to attack Israel has appeared on the prophetic horizon—in my view, at least.

The second news item that caught my attention explains further:

As the liquid oil supply curve continues to drop on an international level, oil prices will only rise dramatically, necessitating the development of unconventional oil productions, IEI CEO Relik Shafir told The Jerusalem Post at a meeting in Tel Aviv on Monday. Creating oil from shale—a dark sedimentary rock containing hydrocarbons—is one such unconventional method, and resources are particularly robust in Israel, Jordan, North America, Russia, Mongolia, China and Australia, according to Shafir…

“Our vision is to allow Israel energy independence,” Shafir said. “This is the vision that brought Harold Vinegar to Israel to make aliya, and the vision of the company.”

In Israel’s case, the largest source of shale is in the Shfela basin region outside Jerusalem, where the hydrocarbons are located between 200 and 400 meters below the surface, beneath an impermeable layer of rock… (Sharon Udasin, “Shale: A Sound Way to Achieve Energy Independence,” Jerusalem Post, 1/3/12)

While the tables of world oil reserves continue to drop dramatically, will the genius that God has placed within the progeny of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob leap to the forefront of petroleum technology and produce the “spoil” that will provoke Gog to bring his coalition down over the mountains of Israel? This is a developing story to which every watchmen of Bible prophecy should pay attention.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=2920

Ottoman Revivial

Erdogan’s recent electoral victory speech puts his true intentions regarding Turkey’s foreign policy goals in perspective. He said that this victory is as important in Ankara as it is in the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sarajevo, under Ottoman times, an important Ottoman city; that his party’s victory was as important in a large Turkish city, Izmir, on the Western Anatolian coast, as it is in Damascus, and as important in Istanbul as it is in Jerusalem.

What does all this mean? At the very least, this victory speech signals a wish for Ottoman cultural colonialism and imperialism. The places Erdogan names were all part of by the Ottoman Empire; the territory of the modern Turkish Republic is what remained after World War I and Turkey’s War of Independence from the occupying Allied forces. Turkey forms only the central part, and relatively small fraction, of what had been the Ottoman Empire, which at its height extended deep into southern Europe, and included most of today’s Arab world and even beyond.

In saying that this victory is as important in all of these former Ottoman cities, Erdogan apparently sees himself as trying to reclaim Turkey’s full Ottoman past. In religious terms, the entire reason for being of the Ottoman Empire was to spread the Sunni form of Islam prevalent there. Sunnis, who make up about 85% of the Muslim world, believe that when Mohammed died, the leadership of Islam was passed down through what amounted to the Meccan artistocracy, and not through Mohammed’s family — which is what the Shi’ites believe. The cities Erdogan mentioned are almost all Sunni, with a few non-Sunni ones thrown in.

The Ottomans had two major rivals: the non-Muslim Europeans to the northwest, and the Shi’ite Persian Empire to the east.

The scars of this early 1500s battle between the Sunni Ottomans and the Persian Shiites has influenced the Turkish Sunni psyche so deeply that today’s Turkish Sunnis — and most importantly among them, Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan — still recite age-old pejorative Turkish proverbs about both the Shiites and the Alevis. These proverbs include references to the Alevis and Shiites as untrustworthy brigands who also engage in indecent acts.

At the moment Erdogan is threatened by other problems that Iran is bringing to his doorstep. These include Iran’s attempt to make itself the major energy transport country in the area, bypassing Turkey. Turkey’s major geographic significance now is that it is a transporter of energy, bringing gas and oil from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and oil from northern Iraq to the world market. If Iran takes Turkey’s place in the energy market, especially in transporting energy to India, China, and the region, Turkey will suffer an immense economic and strategic loss.

Further, Erdogan must be terrified of what he sees happening in Syria. Assad and his ruling clique are not Sunnis. They are Alawis — not exactly the same as Turkey’s Alevis, but similar in that they also revere Ali. But unlike the Shiites, the Alawis view Ali as a deity, much as the Christians revere Jesus. As a result of the continuing upheaval in Syria, the ruling party of Turkey might see itself as surrounded by various active religious threats from the east and from Syria, along Turkey’s southern border.

Erdogan’s and Assad’s families even vacationed together, and Erdogan publicly called Assad his close friend — an alliance all the more curious as the Syrian Sunnis view the Alawis with utter disdain, stemming from the Alawi worship of Ali as a deity, rather than as just the Twelfth Imam.

When the Syrian Sunnis started abandoning their ruler, Bashar Assad a few weeks ago, Erdogan took his cue from them and allowed Syrian Sunnis to host several Syrian opposition conferences in Turkey — including one conference paid for by a wealthy Syrian Sunni businessman who until recently had been a supporter of Assad; and another conference, in Istanbul, of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. Although both conferences had slightly different approaches to solving Syria’s political problems, what united them was that at both, Syria’s Sunnis — Erdogan’s natural allies — were the dominant actors.

Erdogan may well now feel himself under threat from both Syria and Iran, until recently two of his allies. The policy of of “Zero problems with all neighbors” of Erdogan’s Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, has proven to be an abject failure.

Erdogan undoubtedly sees that he now has an opportunity to advance his Ottoman-centric Sunni policy in Syria and beyond. If Assad’s Alawi regime falls, and is replaced by a Sunni-dominated one, Syria — approximately 70% Sunni — would be a natural ally for Turkey. Syria’s Sunni business- and upper classes have had centuries-old connections with their counterparts in Istanbul and elsewhere in Turkey.

In all, Erdogan’s bottom line appears to be advancing a reconstitution of the Ottoman Empire, which he and his fellow Turkish Sunni fundamentalists now call ” The Ottoman Region.” In the long run, all non-Sunnis — such as Iran, Israel, Syria (if it remains under Alawi rule after things eventually quiet down in Syria), and a Shiite-ruled Iraq — remain outsiders. Erdogan might make temporary alliances with any of them, but, psychologically, that will be all he is prepared to do.

As for Erdogan and Davutoglu, in the depths of their souls, they are fundamentalist Sunni Muslims and see themselves as such. The Turkish-Iranian-Iraqi-Syrian alliance, which Erdogan worked so hard to build, has failed. Erdogan’s and Davutoglu’s long-term, Sunni goals, and those of the non-Sunnis in the area, have been, and will always be, vastly different. Turkey might conclude temporary alliances with non-Sunnis as needed, to address immediate concerns, but we cannot expect much more than this. Given Iran’s regional bid to replace Turkey as “energy-central,” and the apparent attempt of the Shi’ite Iranian-Syrian-Alawi alliance to try to put down the Sunni-dominated Syrian insurrection, Turkey needs to make sure it does not have additional problems.

It is in this context that we should understand Turkey’s renewed interest in the U.S. and Israel. As such, both the U.S. and Israel should be extremely wary of Erdogan and his associates. Erdogan’s Turkey does not see long-term interests with either. Given economic developments in Iran, Alawite oppression in Syria, and Shiite-dominance in Iraq, Erdogan understands that he must take a temporary hiatus from his goal of reasserting what appears to be his real goal — the Turkish Sunni domination of the entire Middle East.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=1767