In January 2007, Cyprus and Lebanon, both signatories to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982), signed an agreement on the delimitation of their exclusive economic zones (EEZ) based on the internationally accepted method of equidistance, which consists of determining a median line between two opposite or adjacent coastlines.
Two years later, major offshore natural gas reserves were discovered off the Israeli coast with the potential to satisfy Israel’s domestic energy needs and make the country a substantial exporter. In January 2009 the Tamar Field was discovered near the port city of Haifa containing 240 billion cubic metres (BCM) of natural gas, while the 14 BCM Dalit Field near the northern city of Hadera was tapped in April that year and in June 2010 the world’s largest gas discovery of the decade was made at the Leviathan off the coast of Haifa, with approximately 460 BCM of natural gas. In 2010, the United States Geological Survey estimated that the entire Levant Basin, encompassing parts of Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Cyprus, could contain as much as 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 3.45 trillion cubic meters of recoverable natural gas. For comparison: Iraq, ranked as the 11th country worldwide in proven gas reserves, has 3.1 trillion cubic meters of gas.
In July 2010 and October 2010, Lebanon submitted to the United Nations the charts and lists of geographical coordinates of points marking the Southern Median Line and the Southern Part of the Western Median Line, to delimit its EEZ.