At a time the world competes for cheap energy sources, Israel and Lebanon are nearing a new conflict over natural gas in “disputed water”, media reports warn.
Recent reports have been hinting at the possibility of an upcoming conflict between Lebanon and Israel, one that could potentially involve Hezbollah and be focused on both countries’ claims to natural gas fields in disputed areas near the borders.
While both governments have been engaging in US-brokered maritime talks for more than a year, the lack of agreement has resulted in an Israeli decision to deploy a drilling ship into the Karish natural gas field, angering the Lebanese counterpart.
On the 5th of June 2022, the Lebanese military noticed the arrival of a ship operated by the London-based drilling Energean company to the Karish natural gas field, which falls within the area deemed under Israeli occupation by the Lebanese.
The discovery of natural gas in the Karish field was announced by Energean in May 2022.
In response, the Lebanese President Michel Aoun “warned” that such acts are considered serious violations and that they amount to acts of “aggression and a provocation” by the Israelis.
Translation: “Lebanon’s wealth of oil and natural gas is huge, according to initial studies, estimated to be around 96 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and near 900 million barrels of oil, which could generate nearly $600 billion USD for gas revenues and $450 billion USD for oil revenues”.
Israel, however, responded by rejecting Lebanese claims to the area, saying it is located within its “exclusive economic zone” and not the areas to be discussed with Lebanon.
Lebanese sources have also highlighted an official letter submitted previously by the Lebanese Presidency to the United Nations, “stressing the Lebanese adherence to its rights and maritime resources” and that “the Karish field lies in the disputed area”.
Besides maritime borders, Israel still occupies Lebanon’s Shebaa Farms despite having withdrawn from most of Southern Lebanon in 2000.