While offshore natural gas discoveries have spurred Lebanese and Israeli saber-rattling in a region widely viewed as rich in energy resources, a London analyst said it is too early to make categorical claims about the size and ownership of the potential reservoirs.
In the last several months, Noble Energy Inc., based in Houston, Tex., and Israeli companies have announced two offshore gas discoveries known as Tamar and Leviathan that they say may hold about 24 trillion cubic feet of gas.
Yet, it is “really too early to say” which country has the valid claim over the underwater resources in dispute, as they “may well extend into Lebanese waters,” Catherine Hunter, a senior analyst on the energy team at IHS Global Insight in London, told OilPrice.com. Without further surveys and drilling, the situation is still unclear, she said.
There is a chance of a “really large-scale discovery,” Hunter said, but the blocks are located within recognized Israeli waters and exploration would not have occurred outside of this area. “It will take a few years to figure out where exactly it is,” and until then “it’s all quite speculative,” she argued.
Leviathan is located 130 km from the city of Haifa in the north of Israel, while Tamar is based around 90 km from the city, Hunter later wrote in a research note. She said Leviathan is also located toward Cypriot territorial waters. Israel is reportedly in touch with the Cypriot authorities, who have not made claims to the find, although maritime borders still have to be officially delineated between Israel and Cyprus,
as well as Israel and Lebanon, she wrote.
Details on the size of the finds have also been uncertain, she argued. Leviathan, the larger discovery at 16 trillion cubic feet, has undergone seismic surveys but has not been proven via the drilling of actual wells and testing in the sea bed, Hunter said during an interview, adding this will take place later this year. The Tamar reserve base, estimated at about 8.4 trillion cubic feet, is “more understood” because of the
different wells that have been drilled, but it will “take ages” to fully assess as reserves have been upgraded at least twice so far, Hunter added.
The apparent natural gas windfall has ignited a war of words involving Hezbollah, Tel Aviv and Beirut.....
Hezbollah warned that it will not allow Israel to steal Lebanese gas resources. The Lebanese parliament, now struggling with a hefty debt of about $52 billion, is racing to ratify a law allowing oil and gas exploration before Israel begins to move into its territory.
In turn, Israel’s Minister of Infrastructure Uzi Landau cautioned that Israel will not think twice about using force to safeguard investments in the gas fields.
For Israel, the Tamar field alone can cover most of its needs for the foreseeable future, probably as distant as 2025, noted Hunter. The Leviathan prospect, however, will extend the country’s energy independence beyond this and potentially pave the way for gas exports to Cyprus through a new pipeline or liquefied natural gas shipments to more distant markets, she added.
The U.S. Geological Survey took note of the contentious area in an April assessment. It estimates that the Levant Basin Province, based in the Eastern Mediterranean region, is rich with about 122 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas.
Fred Zeidman, a principal at financial advisory firm XRoads Solutions Group who has spearheaded the global energy practice, sees no legitimacy in the Lebanese claim to natural gas deposits recently uncovered off Israel.
“I have been in Israel,” Zeidman, based in Houston, told OilPrice.com. “I have seen the maps.” About a month ago, Zeidman said he asked government officials there about whether they anticipated competing claims from regional neighbors over territorial waters. “And they said, ‘Absolutely not,’” he noted.
Israel has been licensing for some time, but its Middle East neighbors have been slow to carve out their own gas domains.
Lebanon completed offshore surveys from 2006 to 2007 with the help of Norwegian firm Petroleum Geo-Services and had planned to launch a licensing round, which has been delayed, said Hunter, of IHS Global Insight. “You would have thought that the Tamar find that was made in early 2009 . . . would have prompted some kind of action,” she noted. “But it’s not been a legislative priority so far.”
The political divisions in post-2005 Lebanon have put any real movement on qualifying and quantifying potential resources -- along with most other socio-economic development and reform initiatives -- on the backburner, explained Aram Nerguizian, a resident scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington who is focused on security politics in the Levant and the Persian Gulf. As a result, calls from within both the Lebanese public and private sectors for a comprehensive geological survey of the Mediterranean coastal shelf off Lebanon have been “slow to materialize into action,” he noted.
Cyprus, meanwhile, has moved ahead with one round in its nearby territorial waters, while Syria has failed to carry out offshore exploration, according to Hunter’s research note. Syria called its first licensing round for four offshore areas in 2008, but received only one bid, which was then rejected, she wrote. A second attempt by Syria is planned for this year, although it has not yet been launched, she added.
Most experts doubt the conflict between Israel and Lebanon will spiral out of control into a full-fledged war, as the media have speculated.
“The defense of potential national resources in a poorly demarcated border region is a rallying cry and source of domestic legitimacy at the rhetorical level both in Israel and Lebanon,” CSIS’ Neguizian said. While the gas issue is a source of “political mobilization,” for now it will not escalate into a military matter because the reserves are “little more than an unknown” until detailed geological surveys are conducted by concerned parties, he added.
Battles have been waged over natural resources in the past, but no fighting has ever taken place near the Dead Sea where both Jordan and Israel own bromide deposits, said XRoads’ Zeidman.
And regardless of the “depth and breadth” of animosity between Israel and Lebanon, they have tended to have a “mutual respect” over natural resources, added Zeidman.
Even now, Israel has not experienced a cessation in either its coal supply from Turkey or fuel from Egypt, but the Tamar and Leviathan finds would be a saving grace should these political relationships grow sour, he maintained.
Cyprus and Lebanon should encourage exploration in their own waters and “come to an agreement with Israel if there is any crossover in the reservoir,” Hunter told OilPrice.com.
Maritime boundaries, however, also need to be clarified with “some urgency,” she said later in her research note. Failure to agree on onshore boundaries -- notably the Shebaa Farms and Israel's occupation of the Golan Heights -- does not instill a “strong degree of confidence” that any international ruling will be taken up, she warned.
With industry interest reawakened by recent deepwater, sub-salt gas finds offshore Israel, the eastern Mediterranean and Levantine Basin today loom large on the frontier exploration agenda. Offshore Cyprus and Lebanon are huge unexplored areas in the eastern Mediterranean. This deepwater area is close to proven offshore hydrocarbon provinces in the Nile Delta and Israel. Until recently, shallow post-salt targets have been the main focus in these areas; however, with recent advances in seismic technology sub-salt plays have been revealed. The recent deepwater, sub-salt gas discoveries offshore Israel have significantly increased industry interest in the eastern Mediterranean and particularly the Levantine Basin. High quality Lower Miocene reservoir sands were discovered in both the Tamar and Dalit wells (Figure 1). Analogues to the drilled structures offshore Israel can be found both offshore Cyprus and Lebanon which may prove to be a new province for oil and gas in the next few years.
The Republic of Lebanon is preparing for its first offshore licensing round and anticipates an announcement this year. It is offering oil and gas companies more than 25,000km2 of highly prospective acreage located north of the oil and gas producing areas of Gaza and Israel. The offshore area is covered by extensive 2D – an extension of the recent 2D dual-sensor (GeoStreamer) survey offshore Cyprus – as well as by 3D seismic data. The data reveals several attractive hydrocarbon plays where the primary focus would be in the Miocene sub-salt plays, the Jurassic/Cretaceous horst blocks and Miocene stratigraphic pinch-outs.
The PGS dual-sensor streamer (GeoStreamer) measures both the pressure wave field using hydrophones, and the vertical component of the particle velocity using motion sensors. By combining the data from the two sensors the energy can be separated into up- and down-going parts (Carlson et al, 2007). By considering only the up-going wavefield, the effect of the ghost reflections from the sea surface is removed. When the ghost reflections are removed, the resulting spectrum is flat and broadband thus enabling the user to optimize the data quality, not just for one target depth, but for all depths shallow to deep.
While no wells have been drilled within the study area, the hydrocarbon charge system is interpreted to have potential source intervals in possible Middle Jurassic and Upper Cretaceous- Lower Tertiary and Lower Miocene. The isolated structural setting of the Levantine Basin favors the deposition of source rocks, and it is considered highly unlikely that no source rocks are present in such a thick sedimentary succession. Nearby discoveries in the NEMED block in Egypt, the recent deepwater Lower Miocene Tamar and Dalit discoveries and exploration wells drilled in the shallow water and onshore areas of Israel and Gaza have already proved the presence of a working hydrocarbon system in both the Herodotus and the Levantine Basin. Proven reservoir facies, in the Cenozoic of the eastern Mediterranean, occur in a variety of depositional settings and frequently display god reservoir quality and we believe that there is a strong likelihood that clastic and/or carbonate reservoirs will be present in the current area of interest. Preliminary regional interpretation indicates, among other possibilities, the presence of basin floor fan systems, channel systems and carbonate build ups. The sedimentary basins of the eastern Mediterranean contain a wide range of trapping styles.
Energy Hegemony: Israel Eyes Lebanon’s Offshore Gas Reserves....
by Rannie Amiri
Global Research, July , 2010
It didn’t take long for Israeli infrastructure minister Uzi Landau to raise the prospect of war. That is, if Lebanon attempts to prevent his country from exercising full control over the field despite portions apparently falling within Lebanon’s exclusive economic zone.
“We will not hesitate to use our force and strength to protect not only the rule of law but the international maritime law,” he said. It was an absurd statement, of course, in light of the utter contempt Israel held for maritime law in the attack (in international waters) on the Turkish relief flotilla.
The Tamar natural gas field, 50 miles off Israel’s northern coast, is run by a consortium of American and Israeli companies, including U.S.-based Noble Energy. The latter announced that Tamar may contain up to 8.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and a second, Leviathan, 16 trillion. The deposits in these fields, both found in the last 18 months, are more than twice the size of Great Britain’s proven reserves.
Because Tamar appears to extend into Lebanese waters, and in full recognition of Israel’s history of stealing precious water resources from its neighbors, there have been urgent calls for Lebanon to ratify an energy bill. Last week, parliament speaker Nabih Berri indicated he would swiftly work to pass draft legislation to permit offshore oil and natural gas exploration before Israel claims the zone as its own and starts drilling.
“Israel is racing to make the situation 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,” Berri said.
In an October statement, Norway-based Petroleum Geo-Services confirmed Lebanese waters contain potentially valuable deposits and may prove to be an “exciting new province for oil and gas.”
Despite the pending legislation, the government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri has been criticized for acting too slowly. “The Israeli enemy has started exploring for oil while Lebanon has started exploring an energy law,” quipped one Hezbollah official.
In the latest spat between the two countries still technically at war, one can see how the situation might deteriorate. Indeed, Landau’s threat was one Prime Minister Netanyahu endorsed with his silence.
For Lebanon, the stakes are enormous; potential revenue from tapping into oil and gas reserves would help finance a staggering debt accounting for nearly 150 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.
Will this be the cases belli Israel has been desperately seeking since the July 2006 Lebanon war ended in a humiliating draw?
The debate over which the country’s claim is most sound is not meant to be adjudicated here. What can be said, however, is that Israel’s reflexive threat to use military force to solve this—or any—disagreement with its neighbors cannot be legitimized.
Israel’s history of instigating conflict and then waging war has led to the immeasurable loss of life, land and property. If the pretext to do so again will be control of natural gas reserves shared with Lebanon, the international community must unequivocally declare this an issue to be resolved by rule of law, not act of war....
P-800 Yakhont missiles....
غاز إسرائيل يسبق غاز لبنان عامين كاملين
أعلنت إسرائيل أنها بدأت بعمليات التنقيب الفعلي عن الغاز الطبيعي، قبالة الساحل الشمالي لفلسطين المحتلة، فيما «يأمل لبنان»، بحسب ما أعلن رئيس الحكومة سعد الحريري، منح تراخيص التنقيب في مطلع عام 2012. تطوّران غير سويين للبنان، ويميلان إلى مصلحة إسرائيل
صحيح أن اللبنانيين يدّعون أن إسرائيل سرقت منهم أجزاءً من حقول الغاز في البحر المتوسط، لكنّ الخرائط التي رسموها هم أنفسهم، مع قبرص، تظهر أن إسرائيل لم تستول على مناطق بحرية لبنانية وحسب، بل إنها تنازلت عن منطقة بحرية كبيرة، والنتيجة إقرار لبناني بأن إسرائيل هي التي تنازلت.
خريطة صادرة عن وزارة البنى التحتية الإسرائيلية تظهر مواقع اكتشاف الغاز قبالة سواحل فلسطين المحتلة، بحسب مسمّياتها إسرائيلياً. يظهر في الخريطة حجم التعدي على حقوق لبنان، بما يشمل اقتطاع ستة حقول غازية تسميها إسرائيل «حقول الون الستة»، التي تبدأ في نقطة تحاذي بلدة الناقورة في الجنوب، وصولاً إلى النقطة التي تحاذي بلدة الصرفند في الشمال، في المنطقة الاقتصادية الخالصة للبنان. يظهر حقل لفيتان في الخريطة، وهو أكبر الحقول المعلنة أخيراً، ويليه في الأهمية حقل تمار.. المفترض أن تنتهي عمليات التنقيب فيهما خلال أشهر معدودة، على أن تلي ذلك عمليات تنقيب في الحقول الأخرى، خلال العام المقبل. تظهر الخريطة وجود حقلي غاز على الحدود البرية، الأول في القطاع الشرقي للحدود مع فلسطين المحتلة، ما بين الناقورة وعلما الشعب، والآخر إلى الشمال، على حدود بلدتي بليدا ومركبا، ما يشير إلى وجود كميات من الغاز داخل الأراضي اللبنانية