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Moscow dives into Mediterranean

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WASHINGTON – Russia’s major oil company, LukOil, wants to get involved in Lebanon’s drilling in the Mediterranean Sea, according to Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

The problem is that Lebanon has a dispute with neighboring Israel over rights to the reserve that could erupt into a military confrontation, possibly putting the Russians in the middle.

“We are interested in the Lebanese shelf and are in talks,” according to LukOil Chief Executive Vagit Alekperov.

Israel and Lebanon are awaiting a decision from the United Nations over their respective versions of a maritime economic border proposal that would affect the development of tens of billions of dollars of offshore oil and natural gas reserves.

The issue has been brewing at various levels of severity for at least two years.

Israel already has begun work on two major natural gas fields off of its coast, and there is the potential for more. The known resources are the Tamar and Leviathan natural gas fields in Israeli waters, estimated to contain some 24 trillion cubic meters of natural gas.

A Texas-based company, Noble Energy, found the Leviathan field some 80 miles off the Israeli port of Haifa. It’s said to be the world’s largest deep-water gas discovery in more than a decade.

The fields are operated by Noble Energy and the Israeli Delek Energy companies.

But Lebanon claims that the Leviathan field extends north into Lebanese waters. In addition, Lebanon has discovered potential natural gas reserves in its own waters. The Lebanese government also has accused Israel of allowing energy companies to explore in those areas due to the lack of any maritime border pact.

The Israelis also found two additional natural gas fields some 45 miles off the city of Hadera.

The natural gas reserves could help Israel establish virtual energy independence for many years to come.

The U.S., meanwhile, has backed Lebanon in its maritime border dispute. Upon submitting the document to the U.N., the Lebanese also submitted its version to the U.S.

The U.S. then conducted an expert review and reportedly endorsed the Lebanese document. Sources say that a U.S. diplomat, Frederic Hof, who was responsible for Syria and Lebanon under special U.S. envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell, then began to shuttle between Beirut and Jerusalem to work out differences that could cause a major dispute.

From the U.S. standpoint, it also has an interest, since U.S. companies are involved in searching for oil and gas for Israel, Lebanon and Cyprus.

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