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A major natural gas field found off Israel stretches into Lebanese waters and could provoke further tensions between the two nations, as-Safir reported Tuesday.

The Lebanese newspaper said the area, estimated to hold as much as 16 trillion cubic feet of gas, could turn Israel into a regional exporter of energy.

The area, known as the Leviathan site, is off the coast of Haifa, Israel, and extends into Lebanon’s territorial waters, as-Safir reported.

Hilmi Moussa, as-Safir’s Israel affairs analyst, said, “The region where the find was made lies mostly off the Lebanese shores and in international waters between the sea border of Palestine and the sea border of Cyprus. “

The analyst added, “the drill sites, ‘Rut’, ‘Tamar’, ‘Leviathan’ and ‘Alon’ are included in areas that penetrate sites off of the Lebanese shores or in areas that are situated very far away from the shores of Israel.

If Israel attempts to siphon gas from Lebanese territory, Lebanon would be forced to defend the waters, as-Safir said in an analysis headlined “Israel preparing to steal gas fields in Lebanon’s waters.”

Israel has been dependent on oil and coal imported from Mexico and Norway. The reserves in the natural gas site mean Israel can fulfill its gas demand for the next two decades and may be able to ship natural gas to Europe and Asia, Ynetnews.com reported Tuesday.

Israel has given permission to Noble Energy, based in Houston, to drill at the Leviathan site this year.

In a related development Lebanon’s Energy Minister Gebran Bassil told Al-Manar television on Tuesday that he has finalized a law proposal on the matter and sent it to the cabinet to be discussed , adding that extracting oil and gas is part of Lebanon’s rights.

UPI

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