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Lebanon looks to cash in on natural gas.
In fact — although extraction in most countries in the eastern Mediterranean is at various stages, some only at the legislation stage — conflict is already percolating.
“All we are asking for is to respect our borders, our rights and our resources,” Bassil said. “A natural resource can be a reason for war.”
Either way, any benefit Lebanon might see from drilling, is a ways off. It could be as long as eight years before the country sees its own gas being used for domestic energy generation, and that's only if regional political tensions, or internal sectarian gripes, do not complicate or halt the process in the meantime.
In January, the Hezbollah-led opposition toppled the pro-Western government over a disagreement concerning the international tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, an inquest that is expected to indict Hezbollah members in the murder. The deposed prime minister, Saad Hariri, the late Hariri's son, and his Future Movement political block, are boycotting the new government, now led by the Hezbollah coalition. Prime minster-designate of the new government, Najib Mikati, has yet to reach consensus on a power sharing cabinet and until that happens, no new legislation to govern Lebanon's oil and gas extraction can be passed.
Energy experts, however, said that navigating the current Lebanese political climate, and regional hostilities, is relatively light work for oil companies, which are accustomed to high levels of risk when drilling for oil.
"It's always a risky investment, but then the reward is enormous if they find it," Khadduri said. "In Iraq, companies took the risk and it's much more dangerous than the situation in Lebanon. That's what oil companies do."