Gas to begin flowing ‘in weeks’ from Israeli offshore gas field claimed by Lebanon

Company licensed to develop Karish says ‘project is on track’ to soon begin; Hezbollah has threatened Israel over gas production at field

Energean's floating production system (FPSO) at the Karish gas field in the Mediterranean Sea. (Energean)
Energean's floating production system (FPSO) at the Karish gas field in the Mediterranean Sea. (Energean)

A London-listed company licensed by Israel to extract gas from a maritime field that is in part claimed by Lebanon announced Thursday that it would begin yielding output within weeks.

The “assets have outperformed our expectations and our flagship Karish project is on track to start production within weeks,” Energean said in a statement accompanying financial results.

Israel and the powerful Lebanese Shiite terror group Hezbollah fought a war in 2006 and the two countries have no diplomatic relations.

Israel says the Karish field is located entirely within its exclusive economic zone, but Lebanon insists that part of the field falls within its own waters.

The US has mediated in the dispute, which escalated in early June when Energean brought a production vessel into the field.

Israel announced in early July that it had downed four unarmed drones launched by Hezbollah towards Karish.

A sea-based Iron Dome air defense system is seen on a Navy ship, guarding the Energean floating production, storage and offloading vessel at the Karish gas field, in footage published by the military on July 2, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

Referring to Karish, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned in early August that “the hand that reaches for any of this wealth will be severed.”

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said late last month that any attack on its gas assets could reignite war between the two sides.

The border between Lebanon and Israel is patrolled by a United Nations peacekeeping force known as UNIFIL.

The two countries resumed maritime border negotiations in 2020 but the process was stalled by Beirut’s claim that the map used by the United Nations in the talks needed modifying.

Lebanon initially demanded 860 square kilometers (330 square miles) in the disputed maritime area but then asked for an additional 1,430 square kilometers, including part of the Karish offshore gas field.

US President Joe Biden discussed the dispute with Prime Minister Yair Lapid in late August, when he “emphasized the importance of concluding the maritime boundary negotiations between Israel and Lebanon in the coming weeks,” according to the White House.

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