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Energean has started doing tests on pipes from the Karish offshore gas field in the Eastern Mediterranean and Israel, which claims ownership of the field although neighbor Lebanon disputes this.
According to Israel, Karish lies in its territorial waters. According to Lebanon, it falls within a triangle of contested waters because the two cannot agree on where exactly the border passes.
As Reuters put it in a report from earlier this year, "Israel claims the boundary runs further north than Lebanon accepts, while Lebanon claims it runs further south than Israel accepts, leaving a triangle of disputed waters."
While the dispute drags on, Energean, which won the rights to exploit Karish, said that “following approval received from the Israeli Ministry of Energy to start certain testing procedures, the flow of gas from onshore to the FPSO has commenced”, The National reported.
It added that the tests will last a few weeks and would help it move closer to full-scale production at the field. According to Energean, Karish has reserves estimated at 1.41 trillion cubic feet. The final investment decision on developing the field was made in 2018.
When the UK-based company arrived in Israel to prepare for drilling at Karish earlier this year, Lebanon warned there will be a reaction. Israel in its turn warned Beirut that if it attacks the field this would be construed as an attack on the state of Israel and there will be a retaliatory move.
Tensions remain high even though the U.S. has offered to mediate talks for the resolution of the dispute. The talks are ongoing.
Meanwhile, Israel has ambitions to become a major gas supplier in the Eastern Mediterranean, boosting its output to 40 billion cubic meters over the next few years. Earlier this year, Israel held talks with the European Union for possible future supplies of LNG, with the liquefaction to take place in Egypt.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.