Lebanon investigating location of natgas field

BEIRUT - Lebanon said on Wednesday it was looking into whether a natural gas find which Noble Energy said it discovered off Israel’s Mediterranean coast also fell under Lebanese waters, a charge Israel denied.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Wed 21 Jan 2009, 7:53 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 10:25 PM

A U.S.-Israeli exploration group said last week it had found large amounts of natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean that are expected to meet Israeli gas demands for well over a decade.

Led by Noble Energy, the group said it found natural gas of more than 3 trillion cubic feet (88 billion cubic meters) 90 km from the Israeli northern port of Haifa.

But Lebanese authorities said it was not clear whether the basin fell only under Israel’s waters.

“Noble Energy’s find proves that the (Lebanese) shore is rich in gas and that there is a possibility that we have a common basin, between Lebanon and the Occupied Palestinian territories,” Mohammed Kabbani, who heads a parliamentary committee which overseas energy issues, told Reuters.

Kabbani had said in a statement on Monday that he feared that Israel “can extract mounts of gas from the depths of Lebanon’s territorial waters if there is a common gas basin.”

“If that basin extends to Lebanese waters, then we want to warn this company from infringing on our rights,” Kabbani said, adding the parliamentary committee had requested the government take action.

Energy Minister Alain Tabourian said Lebanon was in the process of registering with the United Nations the delineation of the country’s exclusive economic zone waters to determine whether the gas find fell within it.

“Even if this basin is not common, there may be other common basins and we want to protect our rights,” Kabbani said.

Neither official said how long this process would take.

But Delek Drilling, one of the partners in the U.S.-Israeli consortium, denied the possibility that the discovery was within Lebanon’s territorial waters.

“An examination made with the Petroleum Commissioner showed that these claims are not correct and the location of the license where Tamar 1 is being drilled was studied carefully and it was found that the entire area of the license was within territorial waters of the state of Israel,” it said in a statement.

Noble Energy owns 36 percent of the Tamar site while Isramco Negev owns 28.75 percent and Avner Oil Exploration and Delek Drilling each hold 15.625 percent. Dor Gas Exploration owns 4 percent. Delek and Avner are units of conglomerate Delek Group.

The Tamar-1 drilling site is located 90 km west of the northern port of Haifa. Analysts estimate the natural gas is worth about $15 billion-$16 billion and will be sold starting in 2013.

Noble, Delek and Avner are already producing natural gas from a separate site off the coast of southern Israel that is expected to be depleted within five years.

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