Adulam Oil Shale

KKL-JNF’s position on oil production from oil shale deposits in the Adullam-France region

In 2011 KKL-JNF learned that a foreign-owned commercial company had been granted a concession to conduct an oil shale extraction project in Israel’s Adullam-France region. KKL-JNF decided to investigate the matter by means of a committee of experts headed by Dr. Orr Karasin, who is a member of the KKL-JNF board of directors. On June 9th, 2013 the board adopted the committee’s report in full.

The Adulam-France region

The Adullam-France region is a unique area of Israel endowed with a wealth of ecological, natural, agricultural and historical treasures, all of which, together with its beautiful landscapes, make it attractive to tourists. It is the last high-quality uninterrupted open area remaining in central Israel.
Fifty-one percent of the area included in the concession awarded to the commercial company consists of forests managed by KKL-JNF. On the sixtieth anniversary of Israel’s independence KKL-JNF presented Adullam-France Park to the State as a gift. Thanks to the organization’s strenuous efforts in the region and the generous donation contributed by Friends of KKL France, the park is well developed and well cared for.

As the area earmarked for the pilot oil shale project is located at the foot of Tel Azeka, which forms part of British Park, the regional committee asked KKL-JNF to comment on the proposed site. Israel Energy Initiatives Ltd (IEI), the company concerned, likewise approached KKL-JNF directly to ask about its position on the matter.
Cyclists enjoy the view in Adulam-France Park. Photo: Yossi Zamir, KKL-JNF Photo Archive

KKL-JNF’s position

The Adullam Committee’s report was adopted in full by the KKL-JNF Board of Directors on June 9th, 2013. Acceptance of the report’s recommendations means that:
  1. KKL-JNF will oppose the pilot scheme until a number of actions are performed and clarifications are provided as detailed in the report.

  2. KKL-JNF will not oppose the pilot scheme for extracting oil shale if the conditions enumerated in the report are met.
As of the middle of 2014 IEI had not fulfilled a single one of the conditions laid down by KKL-JNF, which, as a result, continues to oppose both the pilot scheme and the commercial project. KKL-JNF has joined other organizations that oppose the scheme and it is working together with the neighboring regional councils (Mateh Yehuda, Lachish and Yoav), local residents and other environmental organizations in order to prevent the scheme from going ahead under the conditions proposed by IEI.

Pastoral views of Adulam-France Park in the springtime. Photo: Avi Hayun, KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Israel Energy Initiatives Ltd

In accordance with Israel’s Petroleum Law (1952), the Ministry of Infrastructure granted Israel Energy Initiatives Ltd (IEI) a license to carry out the following two actions:
  1. To conduct a geological survey of the oil shale deposit deep underground, in order to select the area from which shale oil would later be produced.

  2. To construct an experimental facility (i.e., a pilot) for heating the shale and extracting oil from it.
Oil shale, also referred to as bituminous rock, consists of sedimentary rocks rich in organic matter. These rocks can produce energy when mined and burned in a special oven, and liquid fuel can likewise be obtained from the quarried rock. It is also possible to make use of the shale deposit in situ, without mining, by heating it underground. The fuel thus produced has qualities similar to those of the refined products of crude oil.

The area specified for the survey and the establishment of the experimental facility covers an area of some 238 square kilometers between Nahal HaElah in the north and Nahal Adorayim in the south, and between Route no. 6 to the west and Moshav Aderet to the east. The area of the license encompasses both the Adullam and Lachish regions.

The establishment of an investigative committee

KKL-JNF decided to investigate the issue of oil shale extraction in the Adullam region and established a committee of experts for this purpose under the leadership of JNF board member Dr. Orr Karasin. The committee was charged with formulating recommendations for KKL-JNF’s stance regarding oil shale extraction in Adullam.

KKL-JNF decided to examine and formulate a position with regard to both the location of the pilot scheme and the possibility of the eventual establishment of a commercial oil-shale extraction plant in Adullam. This decision was made for a number of reasons:
  • Under law, KKL-JNF administers 51% of the area granted under license to IEI.

  • Once the project in question reaches the production stage it will have extensive precedent-setting consequences for both the entire region and the State of Israel. In view of this, it is only proper that KKL-JNF should formulate a general position in principle with regard to the project as a whole, and not just to its various stages.

  • The pilot stage and commercial extraction cannot be considered separately. Under law, once the discovery of an oil shale deposit has been announced, the establishment of a commercial facility cannot be prevented, as such a discovery will oblige the company to establish the facility.

  • KKL-JNF has received a large number of requests for an in-depth investigation both from bodies within Israel and from donors who contributed funds to the organization towards the establishment of Adullam Cave Park.