Lebanon outraged as Israel moves forward with gas drilling plans


Lebanese officials expressed outrage on Saturday after a gas utility company announced last week that it had been awarded a contract to carry out a drilling campaign for Greek energy producer Energean off the coast of northern Israel.

Halliburton will work with Energean on three to five drilling and completion wells in the Karish North natural gas field, located near Israel’s disputed maritime border with Lebanon. The gas field is expected to contain around 1.14 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas reserves, according to Energean.

“We are delighted to strengthen our strong relationship with Energean and honored to be once again selected to provide integrated project management services that maximize the value of their offshore Mediterranean wells,” said Ahmed Kenawi, senior vice president of the ‘Europe, Eurasia and the sub-region. Saharan Africa region in Halliburton. “This campaign will provide a fully integrated solution using our Halliburton 4.0 digital platform and drilling technologies to optimize well delivery. “

Israel and Lebanon began US-mediated negotiations over their maritime border last year, though talks collapsed earlier this year when Lebanon increased its demands with a line stretching widely. further south than their original claims, extending the disputed area to 860 km². to 2,300 km², which would include at least part of the Karish North field.

The Israeli-Lebanese maritime border project. (credit: courtesy)

Israel has rejected the protracted claims made by Lebanon, although Energy Minister Karin Elharrar said in June that “despite Israel’s strong legal record, we are ready to consider creative solutions to close the case ”.

Israel has become a powerhouse in the region in recent years after the discovery of a number of natural gas fields in Israeli territorial waters. Israel exports natural gas to Jordan and Egypt.

In response to Halliburton’s announcement, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said on Saturday that “there is no complacency in this matter, nor a waiver of the rights of the Lebanese, and the United Nations must play its part. to dissuade Israel and force it to stop its repeated violations of the rights of Lebanon and the sovereignty of Lebanon, ”according to the Lebanese National News Agency (ANI).

Lebanese House Speaker Nabih Berri called on the Lebanese Foreign Ministry to take “urgent and immediate action towards the UN Security Council (UNSC) and the international community to verify the possibility of a new Israeli attack on the sovereignty and rights of Lebanon “.

Berri added that “the engagement fees of the Israeli entity and the conclusion of offshore exploration contracts for Halliburton or other companies in the disputed area at sea represent a violation or even a blow to the agreement- framework sponsored by the United States of America and the United Nations “.

The Speaker of the House also questioned the failure of Total Novatek and Eni to begin drilling in Block 9 of Lebanese waters, a small part of which is in waters disputed by Israel, saying the drilling was supposed to start months ago.

Amal Mudallali, Representative of Lebanon to the UN, addressed a letter to both UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Ireland’s Delegate to the UN Geraldine Byrne Nason on this matter, calling on the Security Council to “ensure that the work of evaluating boreholes is not localized.” in a disputed area between Lebanon and Israel, in order to avoid any infringement of the rights and sovereignty of Lebanon.

The letter also called for “to prevent any future drilling in the disputed areas and to avoid measures which could constitute a threat to international peace and security”.

Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.


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