Drillin' for Oil With the Lord on Your Side

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Drillin' for Oil With the Lord on Your Side

In Newsweek's June 13 issue, Dan Ephron writes:
Most biblical references to oil allude to the kind you squeeze from an olive. John Brown, an evangelical Christian from Texas, believes the Jewish Bible also talks about petroleum -- and points to its precise location in Israel. With a team of oilmen he assembled mainly in Texas and a map drawn from Scriptures, the 65-year-old businessman began drilling in northern Israel last month. He describes the venture as grounded in theology but supported by science.

"I believe God deposited the vision of oil for Israel in my heart," Brown tells Newsweek. For decades, speculators have failed to turn up significant deposits in Israel, despite the fact that some of the world's largest oil producers are in the Mideast (though not in neighboring Jordan). But veteran geologists working on the venture, including former Exxon project manager Stacy Allen Cude, say their data seem to conform with Brown's vision.

Raised Roman Catholic, Brown was a tool-company executive in Michigan and an alcoholic when he became a born-again Christian in 1981 ... Brown formed Zion Oil in 2000 and bought rights from the Israeli government to explore a 100,000-acre plot in northern Israel.

After raising $7 million, mostly from other evangelicals eager to support the Jewish state, he chose a spot near Kibbutz Maanit to begin the 4,500-yard drill based on his reading of the Old Testament.

... If no oil is found at Maanit by the time he reaches bottom later this month, Brown has plans to drill at least three more holes. That will require more money, which he says evangelical Christians will gladly provide. "Finding oil will give Israel a huge strategic advantage" over its Arab enemies, he says. "It will change the political and economic structure of the region overnight." His hope, anyway, springs eternal.

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