Lebanon will fully use energy block disputed by Israel - minister

Michel Aoun center stands for the national anthem of Lebanon during the signing ceremony with an international consortium to start exploratory offshore drilling for oil and gas in Beirut Lebanon Friday Feb. 9 2018. The cer

Michel Aoun center stands for the national anthem of Lebanon during the signing ceremony with an international consortium to start exploratory offshore drilling for oil and gas in Beirut Lebanon Friday Feb. 9 2018. The cer

Washington had earlier sent two envoys to Beirut in an effort to settle the dispute over the maritime border, which has emerged following the discovery of gas and oil in the eastern Mediterranean.

The Superior Defense Council of Lebanon, issued instructions to face any Israeli aggression, including that of preventing construction of a Wall along the southern border, it was informed here today.

"We have achieved a big dream and Lebanon has entered a entered a new chapter in its history and is now a member of energy-producing countries", Aoun said at the ceremony. A consortium of France's Total, Italy's Eni and Russia's Novatek signed the agreements for the two blocks, which are among five that Lebanon put up for tender in the country's much-delayed first licensing round.

He said any conflict "would have catastrophic repercussions on both Lebanon and Israel".

Lebanon has a debt of $80 billion or 145 percent of its gross domestic product making it one of the world's highest. The zone extends along the edge of three out of five energy blocks that Lebanon put to tender early previous year.

Meanwhile, it was known that the Israeli Minister of Energy, Yuval Steitnitz, advocated for a diplomatic solution on the disputed offshore bloc 9, in which companies of Italy, France and Russian Federation will begin drilling in 2019 to explore for gas and oil, after a concession given by the Lebanese government.

The dispute runs over 776 square kilometers (300 square miles) of waters claimed by both sides and spreads over the Levant basin, which has been proven to contain large natural gas reserves and maybe even crude oil.

Block nine is the disputed block with Israel.

The Supreme Council of Defense of Lebanon ordered the troops to repel any Israeli attempts on the Lebanese side of the border. "There is no reason not to proceed in this way", Michel added. Israel claims that one of the blocks - Block 9 - juts into its waters, while Lebanon says the block is entirely inside Lebanese waters. Given that, the main prospects are located more than 25km from the disputed area, the consortium confirms that the exploration well on Block 9 will have no interference at all with any fields or prospects located south of the border area. Last week, Israel's minister of military affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, described Lebanon's offshore drilling plans as "very provocative".

His comments drew sharp condemnation from the militant Hezbollah group and Lebanese officials, including Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a Western ally, who described Lieberman's comments as a "blatant provocation that Lebanon rejects".

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