Mon. Sep 25th, 2023

The maritime border agreement between Lebanon and Israel signed four months ago has resulted in the first ever crude oil shipment exported from the Karish gas field in the Eastern Mediterranean. The London-based hydrocarbon company, Energean, has the contract to develop the Karish field which, along with the nearby Tarin field, is estimated to hold 2-3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 44 million barrels of oil.

The extraction of gas from the Karish and Tarin fields had long been a contentious issue between Lebanon and Israel, but the recent maritime border deal has resolved the conflict. Under the terms of the agreement, Israel has full rights to develop the Karish field, while Lebanon retains full rights in the nearby Qana field. Israel will also receive a share of royalties from the Qana field through a side agreement with the French company Total.

Despite the successful export of crude oil from the Karish field, the shipment was considered sensitive and additional security measures were implemented. The Seliger Aframax tanker carrying about 700,000 barrels of crude was visible on satellite tracking but turned off its tracking device for security reasons.

Despite the agreement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to “neutralize” the deal during his election campaign, calling it “illegal” and arguing that it would surrender the gas to Hezbollah. However, the shipment of crude oil from the Karish field marks a significant milestone in the development of the Eastern Mediterranean’s hydrocarbon industry.

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