Israel and Lebanon vie over maritime gas border

Dispute over maritime boundaries is referred by both nations to the UN

Lebanon remains reliant on fuel oil for much of it's power generation needs. GETTY IMAGES
Lebanon remains reliant on fuel oil for much of it's power generation needs. GETTY IMAGES

Spurred by the possibiity of becoming a natural gas exporter, Israel is to ask the UN to intervene in a dispute over its maritime boundary with Lebanon. The move follows a similar Lebanese submission to the UN late in June.

According to a report in the New York Times, a boundary agreed by the Israeli cabinet has been rejected by the Lebanese government.

Israel will now ask the UN to approve their version of the boundary, having Israel’s line stakes out more territory for itself than one that Lebanon drew and submitted to the United Nations a few months ago.

The issue has taken on significance due to the natural gas assets recently discovered with the countries' territorial waters in the Mediterranian Sea.

Lebanon has been slow to exploit the resources under dispute, in part due to political sclerosis, while Israel has been keen to tap the Leviathan and Tamar fields that are expected to remain south of any contested border. 

Domestic sources of energy would be a boon for Lebanon, which has to date been overeliant on imported oil for power generation and other energy needs.

“Lebanon has warned that it insists on protecting its borders and resources,” said Ali Hamdan, spokesman for Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, in a Bloomberg telephone interview from Beirut.

The Israeli Cabinet’s decision “comes late, as it is proof that they want to drill to see where there might be oil and gas, and then demarcate the border,” Hamdan said.

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