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Lebanon wards Israel off energy reserves

July 8, 2013 at 7:15 AM
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BEIRUT, Lebanon, July 8 (UPI) -- Lebanon needs to take action to prevent Israel from siphoning off its offshore oil and natural gas reserves, the Lebanese energy minister said.

Lebanon has expressed frustration to the United Nations regarding the status of its maritime border with Israel. Shiite resistance movement Hezbollah last year warned Israel to stay away from Lebanon's offshore reserves because of border issues.

Lebanon is eager to attract investors to its fledgling oil and natural gas sector. Israel, meanwhile, is looking to capitalize on the natural gas prospects from its offshore Leviathan and Tamar natural gas fields.

Lebanese Energy Minister Gebran Bassil said Israeli natural gas fields are situated within 5 miles of the maritime border.

"Theoretically this means that Israel now has the possibility to reach Lebanese oil and this is a new and dangerous development," he was quoted Friday as saying by The Daily Star newspaper.

The Lebanese government has said parts of the Leviathan natural gas field offshore Israel are in its territorial waters.

There may be more than 400 million barrels of oil and 20 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in place off Lebanon. Beirut is working to coordinate an offshore oil and natural gas licensing round later this year.

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