Israel, Lebanon argue over disputed offshore energy block

'Lieberman's words about Block 9 are a threat to Lebanon and its right to sovereignty over its territorial waters.'

By REUTERS
January 31, 2018 15:57
2 minute read.
Cables descend into Lebanese waters for gas exploration

Cables descend into Lebanese waters for gas exploration. (photo credit: MOHAMED AZAKIR / REUTERS)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

TEL AVIV/BEIRUT - Israel described as "very provocative" on Wednesday a Lebanese offshore oil and gas exploration tender in disputed territory on the countries' maritime border, and urged international firms not to bid.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun, whose country considers Israel an enemy state, described the comments as "a threat to Lebanon".

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


"When they issue a tender on a gas field, including Block 9, which by any standard is ours ... this is very, very challenging and provocative conduct here," Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said.

"Respectable firms" bidding on the tender "are, to my mind, making a grave error - because this is contrary to all of the rules and all protocol in cases like this," he told an international security conference hosted by Tel Aviv University's INSS think-tank.

Lebanon in December approved a bid by a consortium of France's Total, Italy's Eni and Russia's Novatek for two of the five blocks put up for tender in the country's much-delayed first oil and gas offshore licensing round.

One of the awarded blocks, Block 9, borders Israeli waters. Lebanon has an unresolved maritime border dispute with Israel over a triangular area of sea of around 860 sq km (330 square miles) that extends along the edge of three of the blocks.

"Liberman's words about Block 9 are a threat to Lebanon and its right to sovereignty over its territorial waters," Aoun said on his official Twitter account.



Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said the country would take up the comments with the "relevant international bodies to affirm its right to act in its territorial waters".

"For the past few days Israeli officials have been deliberately sending threatening messages to Lebanon," Hariri said in a statement from his press office.

Hariri said Lieberman's words were "blatant provocation".

The contracts are expected to be officially signed on Feb. 9, the Lebanese Petroleum Administration said, allowing exploration to begin.

The licensing round was relaunched in January last year after a three-year delay caused by political paralysis.

Lebanon is on the Levant Basin in the eastern Mediterranean where a number of big sub-sea gas fields have been discovered since 2009, including the Leviathan and Tamar fields located in Israeli waters near the disputed marine border with Lebanon.

Israel last went to war in Lebanon in 2006, against the Iran-backed Hezbollah militia. With tensions rising anew, Liberman said Lebanon would "pay in full" for any new Hezbollah attacks on Israel.

But he said Israel sought no war, adding: "We try to conduct ourselves determinedly and responsibly."

Related Content

August 17, 2018
Cyprus serving as Gaza’s port still in early stages

By HERB KEINON