Lebanon will fully use energy block disputed by Israel: Minister

Lebanese Energy and Water Minister Cesar Abi Khalil. (AP)
Updated 10 February 2018
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Lebanon will fully use energy block disputed by Israel: Minister

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s energy minister said on Friday there would be full exploration in an offshore energy block that partially lies in waters disputed by neighboring Israel.
Lebanon said on Friday it had signed its first offshore oil and gas exploration and production contracts for two energy blocks, including the disputed Block 9.
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.
Israel and Lebanon have exchanged threats and condemnation over the tender, amid rising tensions over territorial and marine boundaries between them.
“Today, we announce that we have started our petroleum path ... after signing the agreements and launching the exploration activities,” Lebanese Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil said at a ceremony in Beirut.
The first well will be drilled in Block 4 in 2019, said Stephane Michel, Total’s president for exploration and production in the Middle East and North Africa.
The second well will be drilled in Block 9 more than 25 km from the border, he said at the ceremony. “There is no reason not to proceed in this way,” Michel added.
Lebanese and Israeli officials said David Satterfield, acting assistant US secretary of state, was in Israel last week and in Lebanon this week on a mediation mission. US officials confirmed his travels without detailing his agenda.
Lebanon, which views Israel as an enemy state, has an unresolved maritime border dispute with its neighbor over a triangular area of sea of around 860 sq km (330 square miles).
The zone extends along the edge of three of the five offshore energy blocks that Lebanon put to tender early last year. Block 9 juts partly into the disputed waters.


Iraq PM-designate to present new cabinet for approval next week — statement

Updated 17 October 2018
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Iraq PM-designate to present new cabinet for approval next week — statement

  • Abdul Mahdi was named as PM by Iraq’s new President Barham Salih last month

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s prime minister-designate Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Wednesday he would present a new cabinet to parliament for approval next week.
Abdul Mahdi was named by Iraq’s new President Barham Salih last month, and has until the beginning of November to form a government. The election of Salih, a Kurd, and his nomination of Abdul Mahdi, a Shiite, has broken months of political deadlock in Iraq after an inconclusive May election.
“The prime minister-designate... is carrying out the necessary communications with the head of parliament and the blocs to set a day” to present the cabinet, his office said in a statement on Facebook and Twitter.
Since a US invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, the Iraqi presidency has been traditionally held by a Kurd, the premiership by a Shiite Arab and the parliamentary speaker has been a Sunni Arab.
Abdul Mahdi, a former vice president, oil minister and finance minister, faces the tasks of rebuilding much of the country after war with Daesh militants, healing ethnic and sectarian tensions, and balancing foreign relations with Iraq’s two major allies — Iran and its arch-foe the United States.