March 19, 2018

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Hezbollah threatens Israeli gas fields

Iran’s Abul Bayt News Agency reports:

Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah delivered on Friday a speech in which he tackled various regional and local topics.

 Sayyed Nasrallah viewed that Lebanon must speak today from a strong position and away from any weakness. “We are strong and we must negotiate from this strong position. We are able to threaten “Israel” as it threatens us. If the American warns that “Israel” will attack us, tell him to accept our demands or Hezbollah will respond,” he said.

“The Lebanese must not allow the devils to sow discord among them, and by devils I mean the Americans,” Sayyed Nasrallah warned.

His Eminence went on to say: “Today the oil resources that are present in the south and across Lebanon are for all Lebanese. The Lebanese people that are suffering from a debt that might reach $100 billion and their only hope might be in the oil and gas that is present in the coast and land.”

“Does Block 9 belong only to the South? No, it is that for all Lebanon,” he added.

In a sounding message to the apartheid “Israeli” entity, the Resistance Leader said: “Lebanon is strong and “let us try”. If the Lebanese Defense Council took a decides that the “Israeli” oil extraction positions must stop working, we [Hezbollah] are ready to stop it within couple of hours.”

Background from Oil and Gas Journal, February 9:

Adding to the company’s Mediterranean operations in Cyprus and Egypt, Total SA has signed exploration and production agreements for Blocks 4 and 9 offshore Lebanon. The consortium includes Total as operator (40%), Eni SPA (40%), OAO Novatek (20%).

Lebanon’s Cabinet approved both licenses in December (OGJ Online, Dec. 19, 2018).

Despite several false starts, Lebanon’s offshore looks poised to enter the country’s long-awaited exploration phase, however, Block 9 continues in controversy due to an ongoing maritime border dispute with neighboring Israel.

Just last week, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman referred to Labanon’s Block 9 award as “challenging and provocative conduct.” Israel claims part of Block 9 and both blocks awarded are on trend with deepwater gas discoveries off Israel

Here is a map of the different blocks, showing the area of dispute between Israel and Lebanon:

In an excellent Jerusalem Post backgrounder, a salient fact is mentioned for the disputed Block 9:

Israel reminded all involved third parties, i.e., apart from Lebanon itself, that any activity “that would violate Israel’s sovereign rights or otherwise involve them in non-consensual or unauthorized economic activity in this maritime area…would expose them to significant liability.” On February 9, 2018, Total announced that it and its partners are aware of the conflict and therefore would not operate within 25 km of the disputed area.

Israel is not unilaterally drilling on its side of Block 9, so Nasrallah’s warning is either complete hot air or it is an indication that Hezbollah might be pushing Lebanon to claim a much larger area that would include existing Israeli gas fields.

This is something that must be watched closely.

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