Israel-Lebanon maritime border deal almost final as gas field nears production

Energy company with rights to the Karish gas field says production on track to begin within weeks.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Israel and Lebanon are on the brink of signing a deal which would pave the way for the extraction and production of energy from the offshore  Karish gas field, according to Lebanese news reports.

The field was previously the subject of a fierce disagreement over the two nations’ maritime borders.

Due to Lebanon’s refusal to recognize Israel, the two countries never agreed on a formal demarcation of their maritime borders. The issue had little significance until the discovery of valuable gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean in recent years.

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.

The disagreement has sparked a long standing dispute over which country has the right to authorize and profit from its gas production, which appears to be finally coming to an end.

Amos Hochstein, a former Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs to the American government, has been acting as a mediator between Israel and Lebanon for months.

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While Hochstein has kept mum about the status of the talks, releasing only laconic statements in which he said “progress” was being made, a number of Lebanese government officials recently told local outlet An-Nahar that the deal is nearly complete.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bouhabib said that the agreement was “95 percent completed,” and that the two sides have an interest in signing the deal quickly due to political instability and caretaker governments in both Lebanon and Israel.

Greek-American energy company Energean, which possesses Karish’s production rights, has pledged that production will begin before the end of September, according to Globes.

“Our flagship Karish project is on track to start production within weeks and will enhance energy security in Israel and the region,” Mathios Rigas, the CEO of Energean, said in a recent statement.

In two July incidents, the Hezbollah terror group launched aerial drones towards Karish which were downed by the IDF. Hezbollah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has threatened to attack the gas field.