Cypriot president Dimitris Christofias led a delegation to Lebanon this week to discuss matters including cooperation in the natural gas field. Lebanon intends to publish a tender to search for gas in the country's economic waters, similar to a tender published by Cyprus several months ago.
Lebanon and Israel are at odds over the boundaries of their economic waters, and parties including the U.S. government are attempting to arbitrate the matter. The disputed offshore area - about 1,100 square kilometers - does not include any of the gas exploration and extraction licenses that Israel has issued to date.
In 2007, Cyprus and Lebanon signed an agreement delineating the boundary between their economic waters, but the Lebanese parliament still has not approved it. Cyprus signed a similar agreement with Israel in 2010. But Israel and Lebanon have no official contacts, so the sides presented their stances to a special committee of the United Nations.
The offshore borders being claimed by the two states are about 15 kilometers apart.
Israel and Cyprus are currently working on partnering in the energy field, and have discussed jointly managing gas fields as well as laying an underwater pipeline between the two nations. One gas field, Block 12, is mostly within Cyprus' economic waters, but also partially within Israel's. Block 12 is being developed by Israel's Delek Group and the U.S.-based Noble Energy. The portion within Israel's waters was named the Ishay license, and drilling there recently commenced.