Bassil: Israel can siphon off Lebanese oil, gas

Jul 06, 2013 12:00 AM

Caretaker Energy and Water Minister Gebran Bassil warned Friday that the recent Israeli discovery of a new gas field 4 kilometers away from the Lebanese coast meant Israel could easily siphon off Lebanon’s gas wealth. Pointing to a map showing the location of the Israeli gas field, Bassil told reporters that in theory Israel could extract Lebanese gas near the Israeli field through advanced technology.

“Israel could lay a pipeline horizontally to siphon off Lebanese gas, which is sitting only 4 kilometers away from the new discovered Israeli field,” Bassil said.

He added that this development was very serious and for this reason the Cabinet should hold an extraordinary meeting as soon as possible to pass two decrees pertaining to the demarcation of the maritime gas fields.

Lebanon has yet to demarcate the maritime borders with Cyprus and Israel in order to determine the boundaries of each country.

Lebanon has called on the United Nations to conduct this demarcation, but there is no sign that this step will be carried out in the foreseeable future.

The energy minister added that the newly discovered Israeli gas field was located a mere 4 kilometers away from block number 8 and 6 kilometers from block number 9, both of which belong to Lebanon.

“We can’t say that a disaster has taken place now, but nevertheless we should take actions to prevent Israel from taking our gas and oil in the future,” Bassil stressed.

He argued that the world record in horizontal oil drilling is 10 kilometers and this clearly shows that Israel, which possesses advanced technology, can easily siphon off Lebanon’s oil and gas fields, which are within reach.

Bassil added that Israel would not dare launch an attack on the Lebanese oil and gas fields thanks to what is commonly called the formula of “people, Army and resistance.”

The energy minister renewed calls to speed up the approval of important decrees to facilitate the work of the Petroleum Administration.

Experts cautioned that if all the decrees were not approved on time then international oil companies which made bids to extract gas off the Lebanese coast might not be able to accomplish their task as the necessary laws would not be in place.

Bassil said he would try to persuade all parliamentary blocs and the president to hold an urgent parliamentary meeting to pass all the decrees to help the companies and the Petroleum Administration do their jobs.

Bassil said in June 2012 that all of Lebanon’s 10 demarcated offshore blocks were nominated as areas of interest by oil and gas firms participating in the initial licensing round.

Spectrum company, which surveyed 3,000 kilometers of Lebanese waters, estimates Lebanon’s hidden gas wealth at more than 25 trillion cubic feet, noting that the prospects of more oil and gas in other areas are also high.


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