Israel has amended the path of its "apartheid" Separation Wall near the West Bank village of Rantis in order to include an area where it is believed oil may be discovered. The exploration is taking place on land on the Palestinian side of the so-called "Green" 1949 armistice line.
Of course, geology does not follow man-made borders, so international conventions leave some no-man's land between neighbouring countries. "Based on this rule, Israel is definitely stealing oil and gas which, by right, belongs to the Palestinians," local sources said.
The Israeli Meged-5 Oil Well is located on the edge of the Palestinian village of Rantis, which falls within the governorate of Ramallah. When the path of the Wall was amended by Israel to take in even more Palestinian land, it was supposedly done for "security reasons".
Later it was discovered that an Israeli oil company, in cooperation with an American company, is developing and exploring the potential of an oil field which was found in the 1980s. The well was abandoned in the belief that it was not going to be commercially viable.
Givot Olam, the only Israeli company licensed for oil drilling, discovered Meged-5 in 2004 and said that it was a "commercial discovery". In 2007 the company signed an agreement with US-owned Shire International to invest $50 million. Two years later the partnership announced that it had found signs of significant quantities of oil at the site.
Covering more than 200 square kilometres, the Meged Oil Field has its proven oil reserves of about 1.5 million barrels. Production started in 2010, when the first test was conducted. In June 2011, Givot Olam reported a steady production rate of 785 barrels a day. The Israeli firm said that there is also some natural gas in Meged-5.
Palestinian activists from Rantis published photos of the oil production equipment which had to be taken using a telephoto lens due to the high security at the site. They say that the work threatens local wildlife and is a health hazard for villagers. The activists have also questioned why the Palestinian Authority does not benefit from the site which is located in the occupied territories. Specialist opinion is that the company is violating the terms of the Oslo Accord by its exploitation of what are clearly Palestinian natural resources. According to the terms of Oslo, there should be "co-operation in the field of energy, including an energy development programme, which will provide for the exploitation of oil and gas."