Gas extraction at Karish field begins a day before Israel-Lebanon deal signing

Commercial sales of gas from Karish will begin “in the next couple of days,” says Energean.

By World Israel News Staff

Gas producer Energean began extracting gas at the offshore Karish field on Thursday, one day before Israel and Lebanon are slated to sign the controversial U.S.-brokered maritime deal.

U.S. Israel and Lebanon will sign an agreement settling a decades-long maritime dispute — which the Karish field is at the crux of —  on Thursday afternoon at the United Nations base in the Lebanese border town of Naqoura. Naqoura is opposite the Israeli coastal town of Rosh Hanikra.

Energean “is pleased to confirm that the first gas has been safely delivered at the Karish field, offshore Israel,” the British-Greek gas company said in a statement

Commercial sales of gas will begin “in the next couple of days,” the company added.

The gas capacity for commercial use is expected to peak within four to six months, Energean said.

“We have delivered a landmark project that brings competition to the Israeli gas market, enhances security of energy supply in the East Med region and brings affordable and clean energy that will displace coal-fired power generation, making a material impact to the environment,” Energean CEO Mathios Rigas said.

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Prime Minister Yair Lapid said the move “bolster Israel’s energy security, enhance our stature as energy exporters, strengthen Israel’s economy, and help in grappling with the global energy crisis.

“The natural gas from Karish will help lower energy prices in Israel as well as increase competition in the market,” he said.

The Biden administration’s mediator, Amos Hochstein, will arrive in Lebanon on Thursday ahead of the signing.

Israel has stated that Karish is entirely within Israeli waters, but Lebanon — which is currently suffering from an unprecedented economic crisis — claims that the gas field is partially located within its territorial waters.

Critics of the deal, including opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, have slammed it as constituting a surrender to Hezbollah. On a two occasions, the IDF shot down Hezbollah drones approaching the gas field.

The Israeli High Court of Justice last week unanimously rejected four petitions filed against the deal, arguing that the Lapid-led government was correct in its assumption that “urgent security, diplomatic and economic reasons” was enough of an impetus to sign the deal before the national elections on November 1.