Lebanon Businessnews News

Kabbani says 'no negotiation of water zone with Israel'
Cyprus offers to mediate in resolving dispute
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Cyprus is offering to mediate between Lebanon and Israel over a maritime border dispute said Solon Kassinis, director of the Cypriot Department of Energy, during the Lebanon International Oil and Gas Summit on December 3.

“We will not negotiate our maritime borders because we have demarcated our territorial waters and our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and sent them to the United Nations,” said MP Mohamad Kabbani.

The Lebanese Parliament had ratified, in August 2011, a law demarcating the maritime border with Israel and Cyprus. The law reclaimed an area of 854 square kilometers from the southern side of Lebanon’s coastal line. This area was also claimed by Israel in the borders of the zone marked out and identified in its agreement with Cyprus in July 2011.

Kassinis said Lebanon should take whatever Israel is offering as a first step, and then continue negotiations. The dispute has held up the ratification of a Lebanese-Cypriot agreement signed in 2007. Kassinis said the bilateral agreement should be finalized and sent to Parliament for ratification, as Cyprus had already done.

“It is Cyprus’ duty to correct the mistake that appeared in its agreement with Israel through which the latter falsely claimed some 860 square kilometers of our maritime borders,” Kabbani said.
Minister of Energy and Water, Gebran Bassil had repeatedly said the dispute with Israel would not prevent the commencement of offshore drilling activities. He said we could start drilling in areas away from the disputed zone.

According to Kabbani, Lebanon will let out drilling activities across the entire coastal line. “Bids will be launched throughout our entire territorial waters, if companies are interested in bidding for drilling rights to the southern side of the coast they are welcome,” he said. Several companies have shown interest in bidding for oil drilling rights off the coast, including Arab and foreign oil explorers. The Ministry of Energy and Water has vowed to set off the first licensing round by early 2013.
Reported by Hanadi Chami
Date Posted: Dec 04, 2012
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