Israel’s Karish Gas Field Began Operations a Day Before Deal with Lebanon

London-based gas company Energean announced on Wednesday it had begun extracting gas from Israel’s Karish gas field, a day before a long-awaited, U.S. brokered maritime border deal is signed between Israel and Lebanon. The gas field had been at the center of dispute between Tel-Aviv and Beirut, as Lebanese government argued that Israel was planning to drill in its territory.

Energean said in a statement, “Gas is being produced from the Karish Main-02 well and the flow of gas is being steadily ramped up.” It added that gas sales will “commence in the next couple of days.”

The company added that the “Karish Main-01 and Karish Main-03 wells are expected to be opened up in approximately two and four weeks, respectively.” Commercial gas sales are expected to reach maximum capacity in four to six months following first gas.

“We have delivered a landmark project that brings competition to the Israeli gas market, enhances security of energy supply in the East Med region and brings affordable and clean energy that will displace coal-fired power generation, making a material impact to the environment,” said Energean CEO Rigas.

The operations start after Israel Energy Ministry granted approval at the offshore gas field, the country’s third.

Prime Minister Lapid welcomed the development, declaring Tuesday that “as we said all along, the production of gas from the Karish field would start as planned the moment the technical conditions are completed.”

With the beginning of production, Karish joins Tamar and Leviathan to become Israel’s third offshore field providing natural gas, with each connected to the mainland by separate infrastructure.

The Energy Ministry aims to increase gas deliveries to Egypt and Jordan, and from there to additional countries in Europe.

The production at the gas field had been disputed by Lebanon. Before the recent maritime border agreement was reached, the terror group Hezbollah, which launched drones toward Karish in July, had threatened attacks if Israel proceeds with gas extraction in the disputed area.

The bi-lateral agreement, brokered by the U.S., between Israel and Lebanon is signed on Thursday.

Under the agreement, Israel will receive recognition for its buoy-marked boundary five kilometers (3.1 miles) off the coast of the northern town of Rosh Hanikra, which it established in 2000. After that, Israel’s border will follow the southern edge of the disputed area known as Line 23.

Lebanon will enjoy the economic benefits of the area north of Line 23, including the Qana gas field, while Israel will move ahead with gas production at the Karish field and will receive revenues from Qana if and when it begins operations.

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