Lebanese FM Shami sends letter to Ban Ki-Moon, urging him to “prevent Israel from exploiting Lebanon’s oil and maritime wealth.”

The United Nations on Wednesday said it will not determine the maritime border between Israel and Lebanon and will not interfere with gas drilling there, Army Radio reported quoting a UN spokesman.

According to the UN spokesman, UNIFIL’s mandate under resolution 1701 “does not include the demarcation of maritime borders. National conflicts and maritime conflicts are two separate things.”

Earlier Wednesday, Lebanon asked the UN to defend its natural gas reserves and claimed that Israel is drilling in gas fields extending into Lebanese territory.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Ali Shami sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, urging him to “prevent Israel from exploiting Lebanon’s oil and maritime wealth.”

Israel denies the allegation that it is drilling in fields that extend into Lebanon.

The letter came a week after an energy corporation which owns a share of an offshore natural gas reserve said the project contains some 16 trillion cubic feet of gas worth an estimated $45 billion.

Noble Energy Inc., which owns 39.66% of the prospect, said the massive store of natural gas in the “Leviathan” reserve – the largest of its kind discovered in the world in the last decade – “has the potential to position Israel as a natural gas- exporting nation.”

Leviathan is located in 1,650 feet of water about 129 km. northwest of the coast of Haifa.

The site is about 47 km. southwest of the “Tamar” drill site, estimated to be worth $15 billion.

Ben Hartman contributed to this report.