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Energean’s gas rig reaches Israel amid Lebanon row

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Greek firm Energean’s floating gas production rig has arrived in Israel, mooring near the Karish gas field, with Lebanon warning against any activity in disputed waters.

Following the crossing of the Suez Canal, the Energean Power FPSO has arrived on location in Israel, about 80 km off the coast of Haifa; hook-up and commissioning operations are expected to begin immediately.

However, Lebanon has warned Israel against any activity in the area as it believes the gas field is located within disputed waters.

Energean said the Floating production storage and offloading vessel (FSPO) had arrived in Israel on Monday.

The FPSO sailed from Sembcorp Marine’s Admiralty Yard in Singapore to Israel in early May and was transported by two tugs.

The 5,532 nautical mile-long journey took 35 days, crossing six seas and passing through the Suez Canal.

The company estimates that commissioning operations will last about 3-4 months until the first gas flow is achieved, which is expected in the third quarter of 2022.

“This marks a major step forward in delivering the first gas from Karish, which remains on track for Q3 2022.

“We look forward to continuing our progress through Karish first gas, the commercialisation of the newly defined Olympus Area and contributing to energy security and competition of supply for the region,” Matthews Riggs, CEO of Energean, said.

Lebanon

Beirut was unhappy about the new rig mooring in Israel’s exclusive economic zone, claiming it is parked in waters disputed between Israel and Lebanon.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said any activity in the disputed area would amount to an “act of aggression and a provocation” shortly after the arrival of Energean’s FSPO.

Israel says the field in question is within its exclusive economic zone, not in disputed waters.

But in a statement on Sunday, the Lebanese presidency said Aoun discussed with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati the vessel’s entry “into the disputed maritime area with Israel and asked the Army Command to provide him with accurate and official data to build upon the matter”.

Mikati said Israel was “encroaching on Lebanon’s maritime wealth, and imposing a fait accompli in a disputed area”, calling this “extremely dangerous”.

The head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary group, Mohammad Raad, called on all parties to get behind the country’s natural gas ventures in the Lebanese EEZ, provided Hezbollah chooses the right time.

Lebanese Foreign Minister, Abdallah Boujib, has reportedly contacted the American mediator, Amos Hochstein, to push for the immediate continuation of negotiations with Israel and find a solution to the issue of maritime demarcation.

The head of Hezbollah’s military arm, Hassan Nasrallah, has stated his opposition to continuing the negotiations, citing the Jewish origin of the American mediator.

Floating rig technology, which is not fixed to the seabed, has several advantages, thanks to an efficient, economical, greener, and safer production capability.

FPSOs are preferred in frontier offshore regions as they are easy to install and do not require a local pipeline infrastructure to export oil.

FPSOs can be a conversion of an oil tanker or can be a vessel built especially for the application, like Energean Power.