Oil Expert: Offshore Natural Resources Boost Lebanon’s Position in World Economy

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The dispute that rose between Lebanon and Israel over the maritime border after the discovery of potential offshore energy reserves drew the attention of many oil drilling companies.

“Time is gold for Lebanon and the cabinet should swiftly take the necessary measures to follow up this issue,” a global oil expert told As Safir on Tuesday.

He told the daily that oil drilling companies will compete to excavate the natural resources in Lebanon, while will halt their activity in Israel due to the dispute that erupted with Lebanon, which endangers the companies’ international interest.

The cabinet on Monday approved the proposed borders of Lebanon’s Exclusive Economic Zone in the Mediterranean, a step that was postponed during the last session.

“Lebanon should take advantage of the issue,” the expert said.

The expert stressed that the large amount of gas found off Lebanon will boost the Lebanese economy and put Lebanon on the “world economic map” as one of the top gas exporting countries.

Earlier in the month, Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour warned the United Nations that Israel's proposed sea border threatens peace and security.

Mansour sent a letter to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon “rejecting geographic coordinates Israel submitted to the United Nations concerning the northern part of the waters it claims,” the foreign ministry said.

It said in a statement that the Israeli claim "infringes on Lebanon's Exclusive Economic Zone," a sea zone that gives a state the right to explore its maritime resources.

The Israeli cabinet in July approved a map and submitted it to the United Nations, which has been asked to mediate the growing conflict.

The Israeli map conflicts with Lebanon's proposed borders, which give the Jewish state less territorial waters and was submitted to the United Nations last year.

Beirut argues its map is in line with an armistice accord drawn up in 1949, an agreement which is not contested by Israel.

Israel has for months been moving to develop several large offshore natural gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean, some of which are shared with Cyprus.

Hizbullah-dominated government has meanwhile warned Beirut will not give up its maritime rights and accuses Israel of violating Lebanese waters, territory and airspace.

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