Posts Tagged ‘Lebanon’

One day after it was first pumped to Israeli shores, valuable resource flows to processing plant for use in energy market
By Times of Israel staff and AP March 31, 2013, 11:08 pm 0

TamarLeaseNaturalGasRigMideast-Israel-Natrua_Horo-635x357Undated file photo of the Tamar Lease natural gas rig, located 90 kilometers west of the city of Haifa, northern Israel. (photo credit: AP/Albatross Aerial Perspective)

Natural gas from the offshore Tamar field reached Ashdod on Sunday night after it was pumped to Israeli shores for the first time Saturday, four years after its discovery.

The Tamar deposit, discovered in 2009 some 90 kilometers west of Haifa, holds an estimated 8.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

On Saturday, hailed an “important day for the Israeli economy” by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, natural gas from the field was pumped to a newly erected facility on the coast of Ashdod, connected to the gas field via pipelines laid out on the ocean floor, 150 kilometers long and 16 inches wide.

On Sunday, the gas finally reached the Ashdod processing plant from which it will start to flow into the Israeli market.

This newly harnessed resource promises to be a major boon to both the country’s public and private energy needs.

The gas from Tamar is expected to help meet Israel’s energy needs for the next 20 years, Channel 2 said, and will save the economy some NIS 13 billion (some $3.5 billion) per year. Its ahead-of-schedule use will also save Israeli citizens some cash — lowering a planned rise in electricity costs to 6 percent, less than originally planned.

The Tamar deposit, and especially the heftier Leviathan, which was discovered in 2010, are expected to provide Israel with enough natural gas for decades and transform the country, famously empty of natural resources, into an energy exporter.

Leviathan, which boasts an estimated 16 to 18 trillion cubic feet of gas, is expected to go online in 2016, the approximate time when exports are expected to begin.

The discoveries are just a portion of the huge reserves in the Levant Basin, which the United States Geological Survey estimated in 2010 holds some 122 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/natural-gas-from-tamar-field-reaches-israel/

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Future War: Israel’s Massive Natural Gas Reserve Discoveries Draw Enemy Eyes
Massive Leviathan, Tamar Natural Gas Fields Poised to Transform Israel Into Energy Exporter
From The Hashmonean online
16 June 2010

Tamar&LeviathanMapFor 62 years we have made the desert bloom, innovating water & drip irrigation technologies which have literally changed agriculture and the planet itself. Sadly, our quest for the desert’s more famous yield – Oil has been less than fulfilling. Surrounded by the world’s largest energy exporters Israel until now has been no pun intended, dry.

The planet is addicted to oil, nearly everything today is seemingly petroleum based. But the age of big oil is slowly coming to an end. Oil is dirty as evidenced by the tragic disaster off the US Gulf Coast. Developed economies are scrambling to move and develop cleaner burning technologies to both supply our fuel, as well as skyrocketing global energy needs. Coal & Oil aren’t going anywhere just yet, but the next century may belong to Natural Gas as the new big boy of global energy.

Tamar & Leviathan

The last 2 years have seen blessings bestowed on the State of Israel with the discovery of massive natural gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean by Texas based Noble Energy & Israeli consortiums. Discoveries within arms reach of the Israeli coast and within our territorial waters. In 2009 the Tamar Israel discovery rippled across energy markets, Tamar discoveries can power 50% of Israel’s energy needs for the next 4 decades.

Now in 2010 a new unbelievably larger reserve named Leviathan may yield massive amounts of natural gas, estimated at possibly twice the size of Tamar! If Leviathan yields, it can transform Israel into a global energy exporter.

The Leviathan natural-gas site off the Haifa shore could be twice the size of the Tamar prospect, the largest gas discovery globally in 2009, and position Israel as a gas exporter in coming years, US oil operator Noble Energy Inc. said Thursday.

“Today is a day of celebration for all of us. The State of Israel is an energy independent country,” Yitzhak Tshuva, controlling shareholder of Delek Group, said Thursday. Delek is a partner in the Leviathan natural-gas find through its subsidiaries Avner Oil and Gas LP and Delek Drilling LP, who each own 22.67 percent. […]

“In March, when I was last in Israel, I said that Noble Energy planned to be here for decades to come,” Noble Energy chairman and CEO Charles Davidson said Thursday. “I am thrilled that today’s announcement substantiates the potential of a new and significant energy basin in the eastern Mediterranean, which, if successful, could position Israel as a potential energy exporter in future years.

“I would like to congratulate the State of Israel on the discoveries of the last year and a half, which have the potential to strengthen the economy and security of Israel. Noble is honored to be working with our Israeli partners in this historic development.” […]

Noble has to date been a gracious partner, aware of the delicate needs in Israel to both drive profit and secure the State energy wise. By the same token, Noble and its consortium of Israeli partners will require the State of Israel to tap these reserves. Apart from licenses, there are unique security needs, as well as substantial infrastructure investments needed which will largely fall on Israel to supply.

Lebanon & Its Embarrassing, Ugly Islamic Step Child – Hezbollah

Of course, If Israel has it, you can rest assured Hezbollah wants to lay its greedy little Islamofacist hands on it. The exploratory permits licensed to Noble and its partners where these discoveries are being made are clearly off Israeli waters.
tamar

The 2009 Tamar Discovery Off the Coast of Haifa

The Lebanese know that the messy little country they have thanks to their pals like Syria & Hezbollah will not draw the billions in foreign exploratory & drilling investment needed to tap whatever reserves may be off their own coast. That has not stopped Lebanon jealously eyeing Israel’s new reserves, or Hezbollah from issuing threats. After all, Israel belongs to them as per Hezbollah ‘logic’ – Muslim lands occupied by Zionist invaders!

Hizbullah: Israel’s gas belongs to us

Hizbullah claims that that the natural gas fields recently discovered in the Mediterranean, belong to Lebanon and warned Israel against extracting gas from them. Iranian English language paper “Tehran Times” quotes Hezbollah’s executive council chief Hashem Safieddine as saying that it would not allow Israel to loot Lebanese gas resources.

Earlier this week, Lebanese parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri told “AFP”, “Israel is racing to make the case a fait accompli and was quick to present itself as an oil emirate, ignoring the fact that, according to the maps, the deposit extends into Lebanese waters. Lebanon must take immediate action to defend its financial, political, economic and sovereign rights.”

Marine law expert Amir Cohen-Dor of the S. Friedman & Co. told “Globes” that the Dalit and Tamar gas fields are within Israel’s contiguous economic zone, and that under the 1982 UN Law of the Sea Convention, Israel can exploit resources in its economic zone.

Gas War Zone?

Both Hezbollah & the Lebanese Parliament which are today one & the same are getting in on the threats. Make no mistake, this is a threat against infrastructure, pipelines, rigs, shipping and investment needed to tap the reserves that will all be required in the future. The Lebanese have gone so far as to issue veiled war threats..

Lebanese daily “As-Safir” today accused Israel of stealing Lebanon’s natural gas.

Lebanese parliamentarians made similar accusations following the discovery of the Tamar and Dalit gas reserves in 2009.

“As-Safir” correspondent Halami Mussa wrote, “Israel plans to steal natural gas from the territorial waters of Lebanon.” He claims that “the reserves are located outside the territorial waters of Israel and are in Lebanese territory.” […] “a serious political and economic issue”, which could be cause for a diplomatic dispute between Israel and Lebanon.

Mussa said, “The area where the seismic survey was carried out is offshore from the coast of Lebanon, between the international border of Palestine and Cyprus.” He utterly ignores the presence of Israel, but says, “Israel, which received the mandate from Britain, which has no rights to Palestine, gave to some of the license to American companies without any right to do so.”

The Ministry of National Infrastructures Map of Petroleum Rights shows that the Tamar license, as well the licenses that make up the Leviathan structure are located west and northwest of Haifa, south of the Israel-Lebanese border

Potential for conflict is real

With Israeli sovereignty being questioned as usual by Islamists & terrorists, and Lebanon laying absurd claim to Israeli natural gas discoveries the potential for conflict is real. Israeli withdrawals from Lebanon have been certified by the UN, yet that did not stop Hezbollah from launching a war in 2006. The Israeli coastal demarcations are also clear, there is little reason to believe that will stop Hezbollah or its patrons from trying to initiate conflict, terrorism & violence either.

This is part and parcel of the Noble partnership with Israel. Infrastructure – both sea based and land based to process the LNG will need to be patrolled, secured. The State may even be forced into war to secure safe resource extraction.

Turkish Non-Delight!

The notion of Israel becoming an energy player will drive the Iranians and their lapdogs mad, that is to say on top of their already certifiable Islamist state of psychoness. Further, Turkish relations with Israel have been spiralling and it has less to do with Gaza aid flotillas, more to do with large economic interests such as these Gas discoveries.

Israel is poised to knock the Turks a few pegs down on the international scale if it starts exporting large quantities of LNG. This threatens Turkish LNG pipeline plans from Russia, potentially removing them from a profitable picture if Israel begins large sea based exports of LNG to Europe & Asia in the coming decades…

Peace and even clean burning energy in the Middle East does not come cheap.

http://hashmonean.com/2010/06/16/future-war-israels-massive-natural-gas-reserve-discoveries-draw-enemy-eyes/

As I read internet news today, I have to wonder about the spreading protests in the Arab world. Muslim against Muslim, it seems… the people against their governments in country after country. The headlines and the shouted messages seem to say, the people want freedom. Freedom from corrupt governments, freedom from economic woes, freedom from oppressive rules and regulations.

So far we’ve heard about Algeria. Tunisia. Egypt. Jordan. Lebanon. Yemen. Djibouti – yes, that tiny little country too. Worries from Saudi Arabia and Syria. Maybe Kuwait.

I did a bit of research into the differences between two major Muslim groups today. Here’s an abbreviated synopsis.

“Sunnis elect, Shias appoint”

Sunni Muslims make up the majority (85%) of Muslims all over the world. They elect their leaders.

Sunni = “one who follows the traditions of the Prophet.” Sunni Muslims agree with the position taken by many of the Prophet’s companions, that the new leader should be elected from among those capable of the job. They believe leadership is not a birthright, but a trust that is earned and which may be given or taken away by the people themselves. No basis for veneration of leaders.

Shias (or Shi’ites) constitute only 10-15% of overall Muslim population worldwide. Their leaders are appointed by Allah or his representatives.

Shia = “a group or supportive party of people.” The commonly-known term is shortened from the historical “Shia-t-Ali,” or “the Party of Ali.” They are also known as followers of “Ahl-al-Bayt” or “People of the Household” (of the Prophet). They believe that following the Prophet Muhammad’s death, leadership should have passed directly to his cousin/son-in-law, Ali. They do not recognize authority of elected Muslim leaders, believe leadership should have stayed within the Prophet’s own family, among those specifically appointed by him, or among Imams appointed by God Himself.

Shias follow a line of Imams which they believe have been appointed by the Prophet Muhammad or God (Allah) Himself. Shias believe the Imam – such as Ayatollah Khamenei in Iran – is sinless by nature, and that his authority is infallible as it comes directly from God. They do venerate their leaders.

So, with the above in mind, let’s look at the Arab world and those countries which are in turmoil right now. (Percentages obtained from Wikipedia, may not be totally accurate.)

Although Sunni Muslims constitute 85% of all Muslims, Shias form a majority of the population in Iran, Yemen (? – see * below) and Azerbaijan, Bahrain and 60% of the population of Iraq. There are also sizable Shia communities along the east coast of Saudi Arabia and in Lebanon.

Iran – majority (89%) Shia. Ayatollah Khamenei (Iranian Supreme Leader) is a fundamentalist Shia. He supports the policies of Iran’s President Ahmadinajab, who says that the “12th Imam” is causing all the uprisings in the Arab world now so that Islam can take over the world. See Joel Rosenberg’s blog 18 Feb 2011: Ahmadinejad claims 12th Imam behind current events. http://flashtrafficblog.wordpress.com/

Note that Hezbollah is a Shi’ite terrorist group funded and supported by Iran and Syria. This well-known guerilla organization forced the Israelis out of southern Lebanon in 2000 and is still causing problems for Israel. Hezbollah recently caused the government of Lebanon to fall. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hezbollah

Does Iran have a hand in instigating the various Arab world riots, working behind the scenes and perhaps using Hezbollah to do it?

Bahrain – majority of the population is Shia but the King is Sunni. Extreme violence today as police opened fire on protesters, then blocked ambulances from reaching wounded.

Libya – majority Sunni but in 2007 Gaddafi said he wants all of N. Africa to be Shi’ite (in an overture to Iran) – a statement that was considered idiotic by many people in his own country. http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/2137.htm Protests in Libya turned violent today with a number of people killed and many wounded as the government cracks down on protesters.

* Yemen – 52% Sunni, 46% Shia. President is Shia. Prime Minister (appointed by President) is Sunni. Both are men of very bad reputation, associated with Saddam Hussein, terrorists.

Dijbouti – 90% of population Muslim, nearly all Sunni. President is Sunni. Has just started having protests in the streets today.

All of these protests are for better economic conditions, with food and fuel prices high and unemployment also high. Large populations of young people cannot find work after finishing their education. It doesn’t appear to matter whether the government is by a dictator, elected President, military generals or a monarch, they want the government pulled down. To be replaced by who? How, and how soon?

It looks to me like a set-up for a charismatic leader to emerge. It’s going to be an interesting year.

To follow events in these and other middle eastern countries, read “Arab Awakening” in The Star online.
http://www.thestar.com/topic/arabawakening

TEHRAN (FNA)- Tehran’s provisional Friday Prayers Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said the popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Yemen signify creation of an Islamic Middle-East.

Fars News online
28 Jan 2011

“Incidents that are happening in the Middle-East and the Arab world should not be regarded simply,” Ayatollah Khatami said, addressing a large and fervent congregation of people on Tehran University campus.

“To those who do not see the realities I clarify that an Islamic Middle-East is being created based on Islam, religion, and democracy with prevailing religious principals,” Ayatollah Khatami stressed.

He was referring to the recent historic revolution in Tunisia and massive protests in Egypt, Jordan, and Yemen.

Egypt’s largest opposition group the Muslim Brotherhood on Thursday called on the country’s people to continue protests. Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Essam al-Arian warned that Egypt would “explode” if the government does not listen to the people.

Meantime, Police clamped down on anti-government protesters in the Egyptian capital of Cairo on Friday.

http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8911080828

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Internet, Phones Down as Egypt Braces for ‘Day of Rage’
Fox News online 28 Jan 2011

A small gathering of Egyptian anti-government activists tried to stage a second day of protests in Cairo Wednesday in defiance of a ban on any gatherings, but police quickly moved in and used force to disperse the group.

The Internet and cell-phone data service appeared to be cut across Egypt on Friday as authorities braced for demonstrations backed by both the country’s biggest opposition group and newly returned Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei.

The government deployed an elite special operations force in Cairo on Thursday night as violence escalated outside the capital, and the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood called on its members to take to the streets after Friday afternoon prayers.

Uniformed security forces at least temporarily disappeared from the streets of central Cairo mid-morning Friday, but truckloads of riot police and armored cars started moving back about an hour later.

Unconfirmed reports circulated early Friday on Twitter that police were splashing gas around key squares ready to set them alight when protesters approached.

The Muslim Brotherhood said at least five of its leaders and five former members of parliament had been arrested. The group’s lawyer, Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maksoud, and spokesman, Walid Shalaby, said a large number of rank-and-file Brotherhood members also had been detained.

Egypt’s four primary Internet providers — Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt, Etisalat Misr — all stopped moving data in and out of the country at 12:34 a.m., according to a network security firm monitoring the traffic. Telecom experts said Egyptian authorities could have engineered the cutoff with a simple change to the instructions for the companies’ networking equipment.

The Internet appeared to remain cut off Friday morning, and cell-phone text and Blackberry Messenger services were all cut or operating sporadically in what appeared to be a move by authorities to disrupt the organization of demonstrations.

Egyptians outside the country were posting updates on Twitter after getting information in voice calls from people inside the country. Many urged their friends to keep up the flow of information over the phones.

The developments were a sign that President Hosni Mubarak’s regime is toughening its crackdown following the biggest protests in years against his nearly 30-year rule.

The counter-terror force, rarely seen on the streets, took up positions in strategic locations, including central Tahrir Square, site of the biggest demonstrations this week.

The real test for the protest movement will be whether Egypt’s fragmented opposition can come together, with Friday’s rallies expected to be some of the biggest so far.

The movement’s momentum appeared to gather Thursday with the return of Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei and the backing of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Social networking sites were abuzz that the gatherings called after Friday prayers could attract huge numbers of protesters demanding the ouster of Mubarak. Millions gather at mosques across the city on Fridays, giving organizers a vast pool of people to tap into.

The 82-year-old Mubarak has not been seen in public or heard from since the protests began Tuesday with tens of thousands marching in Cairo and a string of other cities. While he may still have a chance to ride out this latest challenge, his choices are limited, and all are likely to lead to a loosening of his grip on power.

Violence escalated on Thursday at protests outside the capital. In the flashpoint city of Suez, along the strategic Suez Canal, protesters torched a fire station and looted weapons that they then turned on police. The Interior Ministry said in a statement that more than 90 police officers were injured in those clashes. There were no immediate figures on the number of injured protesters.

In the northern Sinai area of Sheik Zuweid, several hundred Bedouins and police exchanged gunfire, killing a 17-year-old. About 300 protesters surrounded a police station from rooftops of nearby buildings and fired two rocket-propelled grenades at it, damaging the walls.

The United States, Mubarak’s main Western backer, has been publicly counseling reform and an end to the use of violence against protesters, signs the Egyptian leader may no longer be enjoying Washington’s full backing.

In an interview broadcast live on YouTube, President Barack Obama said the anti-government protests filling the streets show the frustrations of Egypt’s citizens. “It is very important that people have mechanisms in order to express their grievances,” Obama said.

On its website, the Muslim Brotherhood said it would join “with all the national Egyptian forces, the Egyptian people, so that this coming Friday will be the general day of rage for the Egyptian nation.”

The Brotherhood has sought to depict itself as a force pushing for democratic change in Egypt’s authoritarian system, and is trying to shed an image among critics that it aims to seize power and impose Islamic law. The group was involved in political violence for decades until it renounced violence in the 1970s.

ElBaradei, the former head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog and a leading Mubarak opponent, has sought to recreate himself as a pro-democracy campaigner in his homeland. He is viewed by some supporters as a figure capable of uniting the country’s fractious opposition and providing the movement with a road map for the future.

Speaking to reporters Thursday before his departure for Cairo, ElBaradei said: “If people, in particular young people, … want me to lead the transition, I will not let them down. My priority right now … is to see a new regime and to see a new Egypt through peaceful transition.”

Once on Egyptian soil, he struck a conciliatory note. “We’re still reaching out to the regime to work with them for the process of change. Every Egyptian doesn’t want to see the country going into violence,” he said.

With Mubarak out of sight, the ruling National Democratic Party said Thursday it was ready for a dialogue with the public but offered no concessions to address demands for a solution to rampant poverty, unemployment and political change.

Its comments were likely to reinforce the belief held by many protesters that Mubarak’s regime is incapable, or unwilling, to introduce reforms that will meet their demands. That could give opposition parties an opening to win popular support if they close ranks and promise changes sought by the youths at the forefront of the unrest.

Mubarak has not said yet whether he will stand for another six-year term as president in elections this year. He has never appointed a deputy and is thought to be grooming his son Gamal to succeed him despite popular opposition. According to leaked U.S. memos, hereditary succession also does not meet with the approval of the powerful military.

Mubarak has seen to it that no viable alternative to him has been allowed to emerge. Constitutional amendments adopted in 2005 by the NDP-dominated parliament has made it virtually impossible for independents like ElBaradei to run for president.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/01/27/egypt-restricts-internet-access-bolsters-security-forces-anticipation-future/#ixzz1CKj38RyJ

From many sources 13 January 2011 come news of floods, severe snow and ice storms, a new eruption from a very old active volcano – as well as political uprisings in several nations. The most interesting of those to me is the government falling in Lebanon. Here are links to the various stories just from one day…

More floods:

Australia: http://bit.ly/elziqY

Brazil: http://bit.ly/gSVRI6

Sri Lanka: http://bbc.in/hxsbRz

Snow and ice storms across the United States: http://gaw.kr/ihMXF4

Mt. Etna erupts again: http://bit.ly/gUhoV6

Lebanon government falls: http://fxn.ws/dHMkLC

And the President of Tunisia has left the country due to massive protests in that North African nation: http://reut.rs/ialgyg

Stay tuned.

(Did you ever wonder about scriptures suggesting Russia will come against Israel in the last days? Here are some clues as to why that might be: Tamar, Dalit and Leviathan Mediterranean gas fields. Be sure to read both articles below.)

Russian President Medvedev to visit Israel in mid-January
DEBKAfile December 15, 2010

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s first visit to Israel in mid-January, part of a Middle East tour, is intended to signify a major switch in Kremlin Middle East policy to warmer relations with Israel and correspondingly less intense ties with Iran, Syria and the radical Palestinian Hamas….

Furthermore, the Russians have got two bids in play for a slice of the as-yet untapped Mediterranean gas. While offering to partner Lebanon in exploring the oil and gas potential opposite its shores earlier this month, Debkafile’s sources report that the Russian energy giant Gazprom sent secret envoys to Tel Aviv at the same time.

They came to discuss investment opportunities with the Israeli firms holding the concessions for the Tamar, Dalit and Leviathan Mediterranean gas fields off the Israeli shore and a possible partnership in Israel’s Ashkelon-Eilat oil and gas pipelines.

According to our sources, Russian energy experts calculate that Israel’s offshore gas reserves, currently estimated at about 25 trillion cubic feet, are in fact much bigger, and maintain they could be better explored with Russian professional assistance. Leviathan is seen as the most promising of the three strikes….

Moscow sent five messages to Jerusalem:

1. For the purchase of military UAVs for the Russian army – for which an agreement will be signed – Moscow will guarantee to withhold advanced weapons, such as the sophisticated S-300 interceptor missile systems, from Iran and Syria. By this move, the Medvedev-Putin administration is drawing a line limiting Russia’s vital contribution to their military buildup and upgrade.

2. Moscow shares Israel’s view that any hi-tech Russian military hardware sold to Damascus or Tehran would eventually reach Hizballah. The Russians have no wish to upgrade Hizballah’s arsenal and therefore has a further incentive for keeping this weaponry out of Iranian and Syrian hands.

3. The Kremlin has recently shifted ground on the Palestinian issue and is no longer willing to automatically endorse Palestinian demands of Israel. Unlike Palestinian negotiators headed by Mahmoud Abbas, Moscow is prepared to look at interim solutions for the Palestinian-Israel dispute. The Russians say the Palestinians are aware of the new winds blowing in Moscow….

4. The Russians ask Israel to take note of another change in its favor: Hamas’s Damascus-based leader Khaled Meshaal is no longer welcome in Moscow.

5. Moscow is seeking to exploit the deepening strategic ties between Israel and Greece to jump aboard their plans to build an underwater gas pipeline linking Greece to the Israeli Mediterranean port of Ashkelon. This would link up with the existing Ashkelon oil and gas pipeline to Eilat, Israel’s Red Sea port.

Russian energy strategists are eyeing the planned and existing segments of this route with great interest, having calculated that the quickest and cheapest outlet for marketing Russian gas to the Far East is through Eilat.

Israeli leaders, President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu have high hopes of the Medvedev visit.

http://www.debka.com/article/20457/

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Moscow, Ankara move in on Lebanon’s offshore energy potential
DEBKAfile December 8, 2010

Photo: An effusive Kremlin welcome for Lebanese PM Hariri. With his sharp instincts for chances in the field of energy, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was stirred into discreet action by Israeli entrepreneurs’ discovery in the past year of a gas bonanza – three fields, dubbed Tamar, Dalit and Leviathan, off Israel’s Mediterranean coast, Debkafile’s Moscow sources report.

Their currently estimated reserves of 25 trillion cubic feet would more than cover Israel’s energy needs and enable it to become a gas exporter, revolutionizing an economy which has developed despite a paucity of natural resources.

Neither did Putin miss Beirut’s claim that Israel was “looting” Lebanese gas resources, or that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri had encountered a polite rejection when he travelled to Nicosia on Oct. 21 to ask Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias for help in mapping the borders of oil and gas fields in the Mediterranean.

Moscow accordingly went into action by inviting Hariri for a visit, which took place Nov. 16-17. With his back to the wall in a life-and-death struggle to save his government from falling into the hands of Hizballah, the Lebanese prime minister was granted the rare honor of an elaborate welcome by both Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev.

The Russian prime minister then pitched into his spiel: Moscow could help Lebanon place itself on the map of oil and gas fields and pipelines in the eastern Mediterranean. But to exploit its oil and gas wealth under the sea, Lebanon needed Russia as energy partner and provider of funds, equipment and skilled labor.

Russia would reciprocate with heavy investments in the Lebanese economy that would restore Beirut to its former prestige as financial capital of the Middle East and an assured supply of advanced weapons at token prices to secure those investments.

None of this prevented the Russian prime minister from sending a delegation to Tel Aviv last week to sound out Israel’s gas new tycoons for opportunities. On offer were Russian investments in funds and equipment and a Russian-Israeli partnership in laying the gas pipeline which Israel and Greece are planning as part of their evolving strategic alliance.

The Lebanese prime minister left Moscow with an understanding in his pocket on three points. As a mark of Russian goodwill, he was promised the gift of six MI 24 helicopters 31 T-72 tanks, 36 130 mm cannons complete with half a million shells and thirty thousand artillery shells – an unprecedented donation to a country outside Moscow’s sphere of influence. Their understanding extended to three key areas:

1. They would discuss big Russian firms building a number of gas-powered electricity plants in Lebanon, backed by Kremlin guarantees and financing – against a Lebanese guarantee to purchase their output over a 30-year period.

2. The Russian-built Arab Gas Pipeline Project Phase II, designed to bring gas from Egypt and run through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey, would grow a Lebanese branch. On Dec. 5, a Kremlin official said: “We want to study a possibility of gas shipment from Syria to Lebanon, for example, by using the Arab Gas Pipeline capacity.”

3. Moscow offered to build three nuclear power plants in Turkey.

The second understanding was the real reason for Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Beirut Wednesday, Nov. 24 and his talks with Hariri. Erdogan now has a new interest in defusing the tensions in Lebanon and keeping Hariri in power.

Debkafile’s military sources say that, in addition to his abiding interest in energy, Vladimir Putin keeps his eye on the big Russian naval base going up in Tartous, Syria. As headquarters of the Russian Black Sea and Mediterranean fleets, this base will also guard Moscow’s investments and holdings in gas and oil fields in the Mediterranean.

http://www.debka.com/article/20435/

DEBKAfile Special Report November 1, 2010

Hizballah last Thursday, Oct. 28, conducted a command exercise in all parts of Lebanon to test its armed militia’s readiness for what its leaders called “zero hour;” i.e. asserting its grip on Lebanon and “cornering” Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Debkafile’s military sources report the exercise took all day and led up to the sabre-rattling speech delivered by Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah that night, which was interpreted by all Lebanese factions interpreted as a declaration of war on their government and the prologue to heating up the border with Israel.

(To read our Oct. 30 report on the speech and its impact, click here: http://www.debka.com/article/9115/)

The Shiite terrorist group made no bones about the reasons for its war stance – just the opposite:

1. Hizballah found it necessary to answer the Israel Defense Forces’ recent “electronic exercise,” in keeping with a top-level Iranian-Syrian-Hizballah decision never to leave any American or Israel military step without response.

2. It was a practice for the military action planned for the hours leading up to the Special Lebanese Tribunal’s issuance of indictments against Hizballah leaders for complicity in the assassination of Lebanese ex-prime minister Rafiq Hariri five years ago.

The “zero hour” exercise demonstrated, according to Hizballah sources, “the quick implementation on the ground” of the necessary deployment. They claimed that in “less than two hours” they were able to “maintain a security and military grip of large areas of Lebanon.”

Our sources note that this is the first time Hizballah has leveled publicly about its plan for seizing control of Lebanon by force of arms – even without waiting for the STL indictments to be issued. The disclosure was made five days after the critical command exercise in order to establish a fact. It took advantage of a moment when its key opponents were otherwise engaged.

President Barack Obama has his hands full with the Democrats’ sliding rating in polls ahead of the Nov. 2 midterm elections to Congress.

Saudi King Abdullah had an eye on an ambitious initiative to convene a national conciliation conference of all Iraqi factions for breaking the long impasse over the formation of a new government in Baghdad. The Saudi king was seeking an al-Arab breakthrough that would push Iran off the board.

And in Jerusalem, political circles in Jerusalem are full engaged in the trivia of domestic scandal, such as the illegal employment of a foreign worker at Defense Minster Ehud Barak’s home or endless bickering over the stipends for yeshiva students with families.

Hizballah also feels it can safely send its gunmen out on the streets of Beirut and vent its ire on Israel without being jumped on by Western media because they are all totally absorbed in al Qaeda’s bomb package plot and its intercontinental ramifications.

http://www.debka.com/article/9118/

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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