There are more than 25 deposits of oil shale in Israel, but only the southern plain (Shfela) deposit holds the potential to bring Israel to energy independence and liberate Israel from the dependency in foreign oil. This is due to the unique geological conditions of this deposit – its size, its richness (high quality of oil shale), its depth, and the hydrological isolation from the aquifer below and from the surface above. The deposit is optimal for In-Situ extracting, and the option to deploy this method provides tremendous environmental advantages, versus other methods of shale oil extraction.
In July 2008, IEI was granted a research, development and demonstration license at the southern Shfela Basin. The license gives IEI the right to explore the area for oil (as defined in the law), including the exclusive rights to perform survey drilling and experimental oil production (pilot).
IEI is obligated to execute a detailed work plan which is an integral part of the terms of the license. Once IEI reaches to a "Discovery", IEI will be entitled to a long term lease – on a selected portion of the license area.
License under the petroleum law does not exempt the holder from any other laws, including planning laws and environmental laws. Moreover, the license held by IEI specifically states that.
All of the wells drilled by IEI were approved by the respective district planning and building committees (Jerusalem and Southern districts). The approval process entailed extensive coordination with the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the JNF, local authorities, etc. The survey drillings were also authorized by the drilling committee of the water authority, which operates under the Water Law and includes members from the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Ministry of Health, the National Park Authority, the geological institute, etc.