Energean to Test Karish Pipeline with Eye on Hezbollah

By Shimon B. Lifkin


YERUSHALAYIM — Energean will begin tests of the pipeline in the Karish natural gas field on Tuesday assuming that Hezbollah, the Lebanese terrorist group, does not interfere, according to a Globes report.

The Greek-British company will hold what was described as a technical exercise of the pumping system. Energean has gas supply agreements with ICL (Israel Chemicals), Haifa Oil Refinery, private power producer OPC, and others.

While Israel and Lebanon are reportedly on the verge of signing an agreement to settle their maritime dispute on offshore economic zones claimed by both countries, Hezbollah has threatened hostile action if Lebanon’s claims are not fully recognized without further delay.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has threatened military intervention if gas is produced from Karish. “We are following up on the negotiations and all our eyes are on Karish and our missiles are locked on Karish,” Nasrallah said. “As long as extraction has not started, there is a chance for solutions.”

“We will not allow that oil and gas be extracted from the disputed Karish field before Lebanon obtains its rightful demands,” he added.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned that Lebanon would “pay a price” for any such action.

Apparently seeking to head off any trouble on Tuesday, the Ministry of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources announced on Friday that “it is readying for the connection of the Karish reservoir to the Israeli network. In the next stage of the project, planned for the coming days, checks will begin of the production platform and of the natural gas transport system from the platform to the onshore network.”

Globes quoted “various sources” who stressed that this was not a matter of the start of natural gas production, but of sending natural gas in the reverse direction, from the shore to the platform, to test the systems.” The ministry message, actually a repeat of a statement released a week and a half ago, was intended to signal to Hezbollah that this is not the beginning of gas production.

On Monday night, the prime minister’s spokesman said that “the production of gas from the Karish rig is not connected to these negotiations, and the production of gas from the rig will commence without delay, as soon as it is possible.”

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