Natural Gas Could Spur Israel-Lebanon War

Published: July 27th 2010
in News » Israel

A natural gas field

Large natural gas reserves have recently been discovered beneath the eastern Mediterranean, which could potentially mean a substantial economic boost for both Israel and Lebanon, both of which are lacking in the natural resource department.


The countries will only benefit, however, if they can arrive at a mutually beneficial agreement about the gas reserve – otherwise, some fear new disputes, or even war, could emerge.


Hezbollah has already warned that Israel plans to steal natural gas from Lebanese territory, and has said it vows to defend the resources using force. Israel, however, claims the portion it is currently developing does not extend into Lebanese waters, which, according to experts, appears to be correct.


The maritime boundary between the two countries, however, which are officially still at war, has never been specifically set.


"Lebanon's need for the resistance has doubled today in light of Israeli threats to steal Lebanon's oil wealth," Hezbollah's Executive Council chief Hashem Safieddine said last month. The need to protect the offshore resources "pushes us in the future to strengthen the resistance's capabilities."


Apparently, Israel is substantially ahead in the race to develop the natural gas. Two fields, Tamar and Dalit, discovered last year, are due to start producing in 2012, and according to Associated Press, experts say their estimated combined reserves of 5.5 trillion cubic feet (160 billion cubic meters) of natural gas can cover Israel's energy needs for the next twenty years.


Israel currently relies exclusively on imports to meet its energy requirements, and spends billions to bring natural gas from Egypt and coal from various other countries. So simply releasing Israel from this dependence would have a hugely positive impact.


Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Berri, however, a Hezbollah ally, warned that Israel is "turning into an oil emirate while ignoring the fact that the field extends, according to the maps, into Lebanon's territorial waters."


Israel's Petroleum and Mining commissioner Yaakov Mimran, however, called these claims "nonsense," saying the fields who are currently developing the reserves are all within Israel's economic zone.


This tension is particularly worrisome, as Israel and Hezbollah continue to accuse each other of intending to incite a new conflict, ever since the 2006 war.

Related articles: (natural gas, Lebanon war, fuel, Mediterranean)
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