Lebanese President Michel Aoun. (Photo credit: Dalati Nohra via AP)
On 18 October, Lebanese President Michel Aoun called on TotalEnergies to quickly start drilling in block 9 in the Mediterranean sea, following the maritime agreement with Israel.
The Lebanese Presidency said Aoun met with a delegation from the company and called for the start of the operation to offset the time spent in indirect negotiations with Israel over demarcation lines, according to Alarabiya News.
According to the Lebanese presidency, Aoun told a delegation from TotalEnergies that he wants drilling to swiftly begin on “Block 9,” which is near the border with Israel also known as the Qana gas field.
Earlier this month, Lebanon and Israel reached an agreement over a disputed maritime border between the two countries, following years of U.S.-mediated negotiations.
A statement released by the office of the outgoing Lebanese President on 11 October, claimed that the deal “is satisfactory to Lebanon and meets its demands,” adding that it “preserves [the nation’s] rights to its natural wealth.”
In details revealed by the Lebanese daily newspaper Al-Akhbar, all obstacles that led to a recent spike in tensions have been resolved, as both countries compromised with regard to the legal language used in the final draft.
The newspaper reveals that both sides agreed that Israel will be paid royalties from the Qana prospect field. However, the money will be paid from the revenue generated from the French oil company Total, not Lebanon’s share of the revenue.
As for the most pressing concern for both sides, Lebanon and Israel compromised on the legal language regarding the buoys deployed at sea to demarcate the various economic blocks.
According to the leaks, Lebanon insisted on adopting Line 20, while refusing to acknowledge that the line demarcates the maritime borders, but simply the blocks at sea.
Meanwhile, Israel insisted on Line 31 which is going to be on the final draft between both countries.
Nonetheless, Lebanon will not acknowledge its effects on the land border demarcation, leaving the issue for indirect land-border negotiations.
In light of these developments, Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati met on 11 October with the Lebanese Minister of Energy, Walid Fayyad, and a delegation from Total.
The delegation included the Director of Oil Exploration and Production Laurent Vivier, who was informed about the results of the negotiations and received a request to start operations.