Not waiting for Lebanon: Israel starts drilling in northern part of Karish gas field

Naftali Bennett is not waiting for Najib Mikati, and Israel is starting to drill in the northern part of the Karish gas field, near a part that is disputed by the countries. Lebanon has already submitted a request to the UN for clarification

Not waiting for Lebanon: Israel starts drilling in northern part of Karish gas field

From right: Naftali Bennett (photo: Haim Zach, GPO) and Najib Mikati (photo: Mueller / MSC, Wikipedia)   

Recently, American company Haliburton announced that that it was hired by the Energean company to drill in the northern part of the Karish gas field, near the maritime border with Lebanon (near Block 9). The agreement includes the drilling of three to five wells. 

In the previous round of talks with Lebanon, in November 2020, Lebanon also wanted to discuss the territory of the Karish gas field. Following the formation of the government in Lebanon in recent weeks, the new prime minister, Najib Mikati, said that he wants to return to the negotiating table with U.S. mediation. 

"Lebanon’s potential move to expand its maritime claim would increase the disputed area from 332 square miles (860 sq km) to 884 square miles (2,290 sq km). Lebanon’s new claim would include part of the Karish gas field in Israel’s claimed waters, which is already being developed by companies that received production licenses from Israel," a report by Control Risks said.

The drilling on the Lebanese side started in March 2020 by a consortium led by ENI, Total and Novatek.

According to a report by intelligenceonline, the deal with Haliburton was negotiated on the American company's side by Zaid Khadra, head of its business development in Dubai, and Ahmed Kenawi, a senior vice president in London, who lived in Dubai for four years. 

The involvement of figures from Dubai in the drilling in Karish is not surprising. Earlier this month, a deal worth about $1 billion was finalized between Israel's Delek Drilling and Mubadala Petroleum of Dubai for the development of the "Tamar" gas field.

As mentioned, Israel is not waiting for Lebanon, and is starting to drill in Karish North, near the disputed area between the two countries. Lebanon has already asked the UN for clarifications regarding the activity in Karish North. 

Additional details on the activity in Karish can be found in a presentation by Energean.

Lebanon's demands during the second round of talks with Israel. The orange part includes Karish North. Image from the Control Risks website

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