Lebanon has already begun exploring in the disputed Block 9 area, Lebanese Energy and Water Minister Cesar Abi Khalil stated, The Daily Star reported.

The news comes in spite of Israel disputing Lebanon’s claims to some of the area.

“It is our full right to explore structures even if they extend beyond borders. Unlike Israel, Lebanon has never aggressed any structures. We’ve already started explorations in Block 9,” the minister was quoted as saying in a series of tweets by the Harvard Arab Alumni Association on April 21.

Lebanon has consistently maintained its claim to offshore oil and gas reserves, including blocks 4 and 9, for which agreements were signed in early 2018 with Total, Eni, and Novatek.

Total, which leads the consortium, has said it will drill in Block 9 but not in the disputed area.

Lebanon has an unresolved maritime border dispute with Israel over a triangular area of sea of around 860 sq km (330 square miles) that extends along the edge of three of its total 10 blocks.