Energean Began Testing at Controversial Eastern Mediterranean Gas Field

London-based oil and gas drilling company Energean began testing pipes between the controversial Karish offshore gas field and Israel in a major step towards production. The offshore gas field has been a source of dispute between Israel and Lebanon because of its location. Israel argues that Karish falls entirely within its territory and is not a subject of negotiation at ongoing, U.S.-mediated maritime border talks with Lebanon. Beirut has made claims to parts of Karish and the Iran-backed Hezbollah, which holds huge influence in Lebanon, has previously threatened attacks if Israel began production from the field.

Energean said in s statement on Sunday that it has started certain testing procedures following approval from the Israeli Ministry of Energy. The company said the flow of gas from onshore to the floating production storage offload (FPSO) facility has begun.

The company also stated that the tests will continue for a number of weeks and were an important step towards extracting gas from Karish.

Lebanon and Israel have engaged in on-off indirect talks since 2020 to delineate their Mediterranean border, which could allow both countries to boost offshore natural gas exploration.

A draft agreement proposed by U.S. envoy Hochstein aims to settle competing claims over offshore gas fields and was delivered to Lebanese and Israeli officials in recent days.

Israel said it is content with Hochstein’s terms and added that they would not seek to make substantive changes.

Lebanon presented its response to Washington’s proposal on Tuesday.

Israel said two days later that it planned to reject Beirut’s proposed amendment, even if that jeopardizes a possible agreement.

Israel reiterated this week that production at Karish would begin as soon as possible, regardless of Lebanon’s demands.

The U.S. draft agreement terms propose that all of Karish to fall under Israeli control, while Qana, another potential gas field, would be divided but its exploitation would be under Lebanon’s control.

French company Total would be licensed to search for gas in the Qana field, and Israel would receive a share of future revenue.

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