Israel reassured Lebanon on Wednesday that the Energean rig anchored in the Karish gas reservoir will not pump gas from disputed territory.
The joint statement issued by Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Energy Minister Karine Elharrar noted the Karish rig is a strategic asset of the state.
The rig was anchored in the Karish gas reservoir this past weekend.
Energean Power the only FPSO in the E-Mediterranean has transited the Suez Canal & arrived on station. The natural #gas it will produce will bring both #energysecurity & competition to the region & help drive #sustainabledevelopment https://t.co/EMPR1qVgka pic.twitter.com/x3tubhmWBh
— Energean (@Energean) June 6, 2022
The ministers said the rig is intended to extract the energy resources and natural gas in Israel’s Economic Zone, and to advance Israel’s ‘green economy,’ adding that the rig is anchored within Israeli maritime territory, “several kilometers south of the area over which negotiations are being conducted” between Israel and Lebanon.
The talks are being mediated by the United States.
“The rig will not pump gas from the disputed territory,” the ministers said.
But in light of threats over the gas field by the Lebanese government and its Iranian proxy, Hezbollah, the ministers added that Israel “prioritizes the protection of its strategic assets, and is prepared to defend them and the security of its infrastructure, all in accordance with its rights.”
The threats were issued Monday after the rig was anchored in the reservoir by UK-Greek energy firm Energean Oil and Gas, which holds the development rights to the Karish gas field.
The Lebanese government accused Israel of encroaching on its sovereign territory, claiming that part of the Karish field stretches into its own waters in the Eastern Mediterranean.
After the rig was anchored in place, Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s office contended, “Negotiations to demarcate the southern maritime borders are still ongoing.” It went on to say that “any action or activity” by Israel in what Lebanon claims to be the disputed section of the Karish field would constitute “a provocation and a hostile act.”
Hezbollah also threatened to take hostile actions against Israel over the Karish gas field.
In response to these threats, Israel sent Navy warships into the area on Monday to protect its new rig.
“At the same time, we call on the State of Lebanon to accelerate negotiations on the maritime border,” the ministers said.
“Locating gas-based energy sources can greatly assist Lebanon’s economy and its citizens, and it is in the interest of the State of Lebanon to advance the dialogue on this matter. We hope that this will occur,” they added.
TPS contributed to this report.