Israel said that the Karish gas field in the Mediterranean Sea, where drilling has been planned, is “in Israel’s territorial waters”, rejecting Lebanon’s claim that at least part of the field is disputed.
Earlier, Lebanese President Michel Aoun had warned that any drilling activities by Israel in the territorial disputed area with Lebanon “constitute a provocation and a hostile act”, referring to the Karish field issue.
“The Karish field is in Israel’s territorial waters even according to a map submitted by Lebanon to the United Nations in 2011,” Shaked Eliyahu, the spokeswoman for Energy Minister Karine Elharrar, told Xinhua news agency late Monday.
“The field is located south of the two border lines both Israel and Lebanon submitted to the UN in 2011,” she said.
The Israeli government issued a drilling license for the Karish field as early as 2008, according to Eliyahu.
On Monday, the Israeli Energy Ministry announced in a statement that a natural gas rig has reached its destination in the Karish gas field.
The rig is expected to connect Karish and other nearby fields and supply about half of the demand for natural gas in Israel’s economy, it said.
The Ministry added that commercial production from Karish is expected to begin in September.
Israel had initially claimed the Karish field as its own property, but later Lebanon expanded its claim in territorial waters which would include at least part of the oil field.
This has resulted in the halt of indirect negotiations for the demarcation of the maritime borders between the two countries.