UN to help Lebanon demarcate maritime borders

January 11, 2011 9:51 am 

BEIRUT, Jan. 11 — The UN will help Lebanon delineate its maritime borders in order to exploit oil and gas reserves, the UN envoy to Beirut said on Monday.

UN Special Coordinator to Lebanon Michael Williams said Lebanon has every right to benefit from any natural resources that may be found in the waters off its coast.

During talks over the weekend with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri urged the UN to safeguard Lebanon's exclusive economic zone, believed to encompass billions of cubic meters of fossil fuel.

"There may be a role for the UN and we have to discuss it with UN's lawyers in New York," Williams told reporters following talks with Lebanese Foreign Minister Ali Shami, "but I think it is important that this issue moves forward."

However, Williams admitted that as Lebanon and Israel are technically in a state of war, the border demarcation would be a particularly thorny issue.

Last week, Shami asked for UN's support in preventing Israel to exploit oil and gas resources outside its territorial waters. A private petrochemical company has estimated the amount of fossil fuel reserves in Israeli waters to be 450 billion cubic meters.

Lebanon said it provided the UN last year with detailed coordinates stating the boundary of its exclusive economic zone which contains oil and gas.

While Lebanese officials are calling on the UN body to preserve Lebanon's oil and natural gas reserves, the country's government has yet to pass a law concerning the exploitation of such resources.

Lebanese lawmaker Ammar Houri said in a news conference Monday that Norwegian firm PGS surveyed an area of 2,350 square kilometers of Lebanon's exclusive economic zone and the results were promising.

"The results were better than expected since it implied that there were good signs and possibilities of having oil and hydrocarbon deposits in Lebanon's economic zone," he added. (PNA/Xinhua)

ALM/ebp

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