Levant energy stakes keep getting higher

Posted: September 16, 2010 in Israel, Middle East
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Hezbollah reportedly has up to 45,000 missiles and rockets aimed at the Jewish state.

Wondering why the recent escalation in Hezbollah weaponry on the Lebanon side of the border? “Follow the money.” Here’s an excerpt from UPI’s energy and science news section worth reading in its entirety.

UPI.com Science News
Sept. 15, 2010

TEL AVIV, Israel, Sept. 15 (UPI) — The energy stakes in the volatile eastern Mediterranean keep getting higher. U.S. explorer Noble Energy of Houston says the reputedly vast Leviathan natural gas field it found off Israel in recent months could also contain up to 4.3 billion barrels of oil.

If that pans out, Israel could have enough oil to keep it running for decades, as well as enough gas from Leviathan and two smaller fields, Tamar and Dalit, to meet its own requirements for 50 years.

But the new oil claim has sharpened tension with neighboring Lebanon, where Israel’s sworn enemy, Hezbollah, reportedly has up to 45,000 missiles and rockets aimed at the Jewish state.

Lebanon claims the gas fields extend northward into its waters and, on Aug. 17, parliament approved a fast-tracked law to allow offshore exploration, setting the stage for an energy battle that is sure to exacerbate the conflict with Israel.

Lebanon conducted seismic surveys in 2006-07 and these indicated that there could be significant gas reserves off the coast, a prospect vastly heightened by the deep-water strikes off Israel.

The big prize for Israel is the Leviathan field 50 miles west of Haifa, the country’s main port and naval base. Noble Energy estimates it contains 16 trillion cubic feet of gas. The nearby Tamar field has proven reserves of 8 tcf and is expected to start delivering in 2012. There are plans to build a major terminal near Haifa.

All told, the gas finds announced by Noble Energy and its Israeli partner, the Delek Group, could eventually total 24 tcf with a value of $300 billion or more. But even that could represent only a small part of the gas that lies beneath the seabed in the eastern Mediterranean.

Hezbollah, the strongest military force in Lebanon, has proclaimed the country’s need for its military might “has doubled … in light of Israeli threats to steal Lebanon’s oil wealth.”

The oil and gas reserves have gone undiscovered for so long because Western companies didn’t want to antagonize Arab producers like Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait by working with Israel. But now that the secret’s out, Israel and Lebanon seem set to duke it out.


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