'Lebanon has right to benefit from gas'

Beirut parliament speaker urges gov't to pass "oil exploration law."

June 25, 2010 19:06
1 minute read.
A natural gas pipeline [illustrative].

A natural gas pipeline [illustrative].. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Beirut has the full right to benefit from gas finds, Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Berri suggested Friday amid disputes between the country's parliament and cabinet over a new draft law to develop oil and natural gas reserves in the Lebanon's territory and waters.

An-Nahar quoted Berri as saying Friday that the draft law "deals with a vital cause," namely Lebanon's sovereignty. He also cautioned against "procrastination" on the matter.

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Though the bill has been in development for years, Friday's statement by Berri came in reaction to a June 3 announcement by a consortium led by billionaire Yitzhak Tshuva that it had struck natural gas in a field called 'Leviathan' off the coast of Israel.

Berri claimed the find lay within Lebanon's territorial waters, but National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau denied the claim, saying Israel would "not hesitate to use our force and strength to protect not only the rule of law, but the international maritime law."

He continued, “Whatever we find, they will have something to say. That’s because they’re not challenging our findings and so-called occupation of the sea. Our very existence here is a matter of occupation for them. These areas are within the economic waters of Israel.”

In response to Landau's comments, Berri suggested that Lebanon "speed up adoption of the oil exploration draft law."

Bloomberg contributed to this report.

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