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Lebanon advertises off-shore gas concessions currently under Israeli license Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Lebanon advertises off-shore gas concessions currently under Israeli license

An Israeli navy boat passes the Tamar drilling platform in the disputed waters [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 January, 2017

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Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil told reporters that five blocks were open for tender, but three of them are currently being occupied under Israeli license.

Three out of the five areas of offshore gas the Lebanese government has put out to tender are not expected to receive any bids - because they are currently being licensed by Israel.

Blocks 8,9 and 10 lie in areas Israel claims as its own territorial waters and were acquired by Greece's Energean Oil & Gas in July 2016, however Lebanon also claims the rights to the water space.

"The government will put out blocks 1, 4, 8, 9 and 10 for bidding in the first licensing round for the exploration of oil and gas," Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil said.

A Lebanese official told Lebanon's The Daily Star that the coastal territory neighbouring Israel was not disputed and that Lebanon had the right to license its territorial waters.

Energean is currently developing a number of off-shore gas wells at the Karish and Tanin gas fields in this area. These wells were acquired from Delek Drilling and Avner for $148 million in July 2016.

The energy minister said the list of applicants for each block will be published on Sept. 22 but the government would not commit today to awarding contracts on all five blocks.

"The evaluation of the bids and the signature of [exploration and production agreements] will follow as of Nov. 15, 2017," Abi Khalil said.

In response to the minister's statement, a spokesperson for the Israeli government said it was "committed" to protecting maritime areas it asserts sovereign rights to.

"Israel has made clear its position on its northern maritime delimitation, and published its position on this issue with the UN in 2011," said Yiftah Curiel.

Abi Khalil was appointed the new Minister of Energy and Water in December, having previously worked as the advisor to former Minister of Energy and Water, Gebran Bassil, since 2009.

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