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September 8, 2022 11:09 am

Disputed Karish Gas Field Off Israeli Coast to Begin Extraction ‘Within Weeks’

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

London-based Energean’s drill ship begins drilling at the Karish natural gas field offshore Israel in the east Mediterranean May 9, 2022. REUTERS/Ari Rabinovitch

Energean Plc, which holds the rights to Israel’s offshore Karish field, announced Thursday that extraction from the disputed natural gas site will begin “within weeks.”

“Our flagship Karish project is on track to start production within weeks and will enhance energy security in Israel and the region,” the London-based exploration and production company said in its financial results statement.

The update about the readiness of the Karish project to deliver first gas in the coming weeks comes as Israel and Lebanon are reportedly close to reaching an agreement on a dispute over the maritime boundary separating their exclusive economic zones. Lebanon is insisting that the Karish field is in disputed waters, while Israel maintains that it is firmly within its exclusive economic zone.

The two countries, which have no diplomatic relations, have been in US-facilitated negotiations to delineate their maritime border, in order to facilitate the development of offshore energy assets.

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The Lebanese terror group Hezbollah has in recent weeks warned Israel against drilling in the disputed zone. In the runup to the oil extraction milestone, Israel has built up deterrence against Iran-backed Hezbollah as its head, Hassan Nasrallah, escalates threats to attack Israeli targets in the disputed Karish gas field in the Mediterranean.

Earlier this week, Saudi Arabian news channel Al-Arabiya reported that a maritime boundary agreement between Israel and Lebanon is on the brink of completion. US special envoy Amos Hochstein, who is mediating between the two foes, was in Beirut this week to present a draft agreement of principles for delineating the Israel-Lebanon maritime boundary.

Hochstein is expected to arrive in Israel on Thursday to meet with Israel’s National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata and the country’s Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz to discuss the latest developments on the maritime border negotiations with Lebanon, according to Israeli press reports.

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