Lebanon says will pursue oil exploration despite Israeli criticism

An oil tanker is moored on the northern outskirts of Beirut. (File Photo: AFP)
Updated 01 February 2018

Lebanon says will pursue oil exploration despite Israeli criticism

BEIRUT: Lebanon on Thursday pledged to do “everything in its power” to pursue oil and gas drilling off its coast, in response to Israeli accusations that such explorations were “provocative.”
In December, Lebanon approved a first bid to search for oil and gas in two blocks off the country’s Mediterranean coast, including one that Israel says belongs to it.
On Wednesday, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said awarding such bids amounted to “provocative behavior” by Lebanon’s government.
“They issue a tender on a gas field — including a bloc which by all accounts is ours — to international groups that are respectable companies, which to my mind are making a serious mistake since it’s against all rules and protocol in cases like this,” Lieberman said.
Lebanese officials have fired back, with Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil on Thursday saying Lebanon would defend its right to drill there.
“Israel will do what it can to block us from taking advantage of our oil wealth, and we will do everything in our power to defend it,” Abi Khalil told a local radio station.
Lebanon will sign agreements with the explorers — France’s Total, Italy’s ENI and Russia’s Novatek — next week and would be ready to begin drilling by 2019, he said.
Lieberman’s comments on Wednesday have set off a firestorm in Lebanon.
Hezbollah, an armed movement that has clashed with Israel on several occasions, condemned his statement.
Armed movement Hezbollah on Wednesday it would “respond firmly to any attack on our oil and gas rights, defend Lebanon’s products, and protect its resources.”
And on Thursday, President Michel Aoun pledged Beirut would “defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity by all available means.”
Lebanon is looking to tap potential oil and gas reserves after major offshore discoveries by neighboring Israel and Cyprus.
On December 14, it approved a bid on blocks four and nine — just two of the five that were offered.
Block nine is the disputed block with Israel.


Algeria to go the polls on December 12, says interim president

Updated 15 September 2019

Algeria to go the polls on December 12, says interim president

ALGIERS: Algeria — whose president Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned in April following mass protests — is to hold a presidential election on December 12, his interim successor announced Sunday.

"I have decided... that the date of the presidential election will be Thursday, December 12," said Abdelkader Bensalah, who is precluded from standing himself, in a televised address.

The announcement comes after army chief General Ahmed Gaid Salah, seen as the strongman in Algeria since the fall of Bouteflika, insisted that polls be held by the end of this year, despite ongoing protests demanding the creation of new institutions ahead of any elections.