The Israeli government approved a decision to search for oil and natural gas in the maritime territory that abuts the infamous Block 9, which has been a subject of a heated dispute with Lebanon.
On June 23rd, Israel announced its third offshore bidding round for the oil and natural gas exploration of “Block 72,” which was previously known as “Alon D,” located along the border of the nearly-860 km2 disputed Lebanese-Israeli waters.
Reportedly, Israel had been avoiding granting licenses for the exploration of this block for the fear that it would lead to a new conflict with Lebanon.
Following the announcement, Lebanese President Michel Aoun said that Israel’s exploration of oil and gas in the disputed area with Lebanon is a “very dangerous matter,” warning, “we will not allow the violation of our internationally-recognized territorial waters.”
Moreover, the president called for a Supreme Defense Council meeting at 2 PM this Tuesday, prior to the scheduled Cabinet meeting, to discuss the development at the Southern border, among other matters.
In turn, MP Kassem Hachem said that Israel’s decision resembles a “declaration of war” on Lebanon that calls for a “national alert” in the face of this “new and blatant aggression.”
Notably, Lebanon is expected to begin drilling an oil and natural gas exploration well in Block 9 later this year.
This comes months after the country drilled its first-ever exploration well in Block 4 (Byblos-1), off the coast of Keserwan-Jbeil, without encountering hydrocarbons in any significant volumes.
The French petroleum refining company Total, which was responsible for exploring Byblos-1, will also undergo the search for hydrocarbons for the benefit of Lebanon in Block 9, in a process that is expected to last until May 2021.