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Gas to flow ‘in weeks’ from Israeli licensed field disputed by Lebanon

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A London-listed company licensed by Israel to extract gas from a maritime field that is in part claimed by Lebanon announced Thursday that it would begin yielding output within weeks.

The “assets have outperformed our expectations and our flagship Karish project is on track to start production within weeks,” Energean said in a statement accompanying financial results.

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Israel and the powerful Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah fought a war in 2006 and the two countries have no diplomatic relations.

Israel says the Karish field is located entirely within its exclusive economic zone, but Lebanon insists that part of the field falls within its own waters.

The US has mediated in the dispute, which escalated in early June when Energean brought a production vessel into the field.

Israel announced in early July that it had downed three unarmed drones launched by Hezbollah towards Karish.

Referring to Karish, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned in early August that “the hand that reaches for any of this wealth will be severed.”

Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz said late last month that any attack on its gas assets could reignite war between the two sides.

The border between Lebanon and Israel is patrolled by the United Nations.

The two countries resumed maritime border negotiations in 2020 but the process was stalled by Beirut’s claim that the map used by the United Nations in the talks needed modifying.

Lebanon initially demanded 860 square kilometers (330 square miles) in the disputed maritime area but then asked for an additional 1,430 square kilometers, including part of the Karish offshore gas field.

US President Joe Biden discussed the dispute with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid in late August, when he “emphasized the importance of concluding the maritime boundary negotiations between Israel and Lebanon in the coming weeks,” according to the White House.

Read more: UN Security Council renews mandate of peacekeeping force in Lebanon for one year