Forget Hezbollah: Israel, Lebanon hit deadlock over offshore gas explorations
Talks on solving the dispute between Israel and Lebanon over the border of their exclusive economic zones (EEZ) are on the rocks. US Department of State Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Diplomacy Amos Hochstein, who is mediating the talks, met Lebanese president and top government leaders, except for Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri, on a visit early this month.
Israel and Lebanon dispute the point at which their EEZs meet Cyprus's EEZ. Israel and Lebanon give different positions several kilometers apart for this meeting point, creating an 850-square kilometer triangle with its apex is the Israel-Lebanon border at the Mediterranean shore at Rosh Hanikra.
The US proposal, first raised in November 2013, is to continue the border (known as the Blue Line, drawn by the UN, after Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000) into the sea. This border would be deemed temporary, until a permanent solution is found. Lebanon says that the proposal "is a good starting point that needs fine tuning."
The dispute is delaying publication of an oil and gas exploration tender for Lebanon's Block 9, which could have more than seven trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The April 10 deadline for submitting bids in tenders for five Lebanese blocks has been postponed until August, partly because some Lebanese government officials want to double the number of exploration blocks to ten. Most oil majors have said that they intend to participate in some of the tenders, despite Lebanon's political instability.
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