The Syrian Regime’s Attempt to Get its Hands on Lebanon’s Oil

Geological surveys for drilling offshore oil will begin soon, contributing to fresh tensions between Lebanon and Syria, writes Daraj.

The issue of maritime border demarcation in Lebanon comes back to the fore every now and then, but this time on the northern side of the border, that is, with Syria.

The Syrian government signed a contract with the Russian “Capital” company under Law No. 10 on Mar. 9, 2021, to begin conducting geological surveys on oil and gas and to start drilling in Block No. 1 located on the maritime border with Lebanon.

Block No. 1, however, is located in the Syrian territorial waters, which overlaps with the Lebanese territorial waters. The overlapping area varies and is not precisely defined. Lebanon estimates it at 750 square kilometers.

The irony is that the oil and gas issue is considered an essential part of any political plan or election rhetoric for politicians. However, a week after the news of contracting the Russian company to work in the bloc, no comment was issued by officials explaining the matter or initiating a solution to the unresolved maritime border crisis in defense of Lebanon’s oil resources.

Darj.com spoke to Ms. Laurie Hetayan, an expert in oil and gas affairs, who said, “the problem between Lebanon and Syria lies in the absence of any demarcation of the maritime borders between the two countries, which is likely to make Lebanon lose its natural resources in Block No.1”.

Lebanon drew its borders in 2011 with Israel and Syria and sent all the coordinates to the UN. Syria, however, filed a complaint against Lebanon with the UN in 2014 in which it objected to this demarcation and considered that it is a purely internal matter that does not concern Syria but the Lebanese state only.

Despite Russia’s willingness to mediate between Lebanon and Syria over the demarcation of the border in 2018, no change has occurred.

The head of the Lebanese Forces Party, Samir Geagea, has accused Syria of encroaching on Lebanon’s maritime borders.

“The Assad government objected to Lebanon’s proposal for oil and gas exploration in 2014,” Geagea said in statements reported by MTV.

He stressed, “We were surprised by the awarding of a Russian company by the Assad government to oil and gas exploration based on the Syrian demarcation, which we did not agree on.”

“The Syrian side is trying to bite down 750 square kilometers, as it appears on the maps,” Geagea said. “I call on Presidents Aoun and Diab, his government, and the political forces represented by the parliamentary majority to assign a law firm to send a warning to the Russian company, to inform it that the Syrian block is interfering with the Lebanese borders, constituting an encroachment on our land.”

 

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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