Lebanon Fumes Over Israeli Offshore Drilling Contract

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati. (Dalati Nohra/Handout via REUTERS)

Tensions between Lebanon and Israel over drilling rights in the Mediterranean were reignited after a contract was awarded for a joint project off the coast of northern Israel.


The Halliburton Company is to collaborate with Greek energy producer Energean on drilling for natural gas in the Karish North field, located near Israel’s disputed maritime border with Lebanon. Prior studies indicate that the gas field could hold 1.14 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas reserves, according to Energean.


In response to the news, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati expressed his country’s determination to fight the project.


Mikati stated on Saturday that “there is no complacency in this matter, nor is there a waiver of Lebanese rights, and the United Nations must play its role in deterring Israel and forcing it to stop its repeated violations of Lebanese rights and Lebanon’s sovereignty,” according to Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA).


Amal Mudallali, Lebanon’s representative to the U.N., submitted a letter to both Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Ireland’s delegate to the U.N., Geraldine Byrne Nason, on the matter, demanding that the UNSC act to “ensure that the drilling evaluation works are not located in a disputed area between Lebanon and Israel, in order to avoid any attack on Lebanon’s rights and sovereignty.”


The Israeli Energy Ministry rejected Lebanon’s claims in the matter. “Israel is not drilling in the area in dispute. The drilling that has been taking place for several years is happening under license for Karish and Karish North, and they are not at all in the area under dispute.”


Halliburton, which announced the contract, seemed unaffected by the Lebanese reaction.


“We are excited to build on our strong relationship with Energean and honored to once again be selected to deliver integrated project management services that maximize the value of their offshore Mediterranean wells,” said Ahmed Kenawi, senior vice president of Europe, Eurasia and Sub-Saharan Africa Region at Halliburton. “This campaign will deliver a fully integrated solution using our Halliburton 4.0 digital platform and drilling technologies to optimize well delivery.”


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