Speaker Nabih Berri received on Thursday a message from the Lebanese Petroleum Association that Lebanon’s offshore oil wealth is under threat from Israel, reported al-Joumhouria newspaper on Friday.

It said: “Lebanon’s wealth is under real threat from Israel due to its excessive actions in stealing its oil.”

Lebanese authorities had received information that Israel had started drilling oil and gas wells near Lebanon’s Exclusive Economic Zone by its southern border, reported the Kuwaiti daily al-Anba on Friday.

Parliamentary sources told the daily that one well lies four kilometers off Lebanon’s maritime borders, while the other is nine kilometers away.

This means that drilling can eat away at Lebanon’s wealth, warned the sources.

The Ministry of Energy had issued a report warning authorities that if they did not take action in this file, then the country is facing a real danger of losing its wealth.

The sources explained that parliament had issued the necessary laws linked to tackling the petroleum file, but it is now a victim of political dealings between the government and various political forces.

In March 2010, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated a mean of 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil and a mean of 34.5 trillion cubic meters of recoverable gas in the Levant Basin in the eastern Mediterranean, which includes the territorial waters of Lebanon, Israel, Syria and Cyprus.

In August 2014, the government postponed for the fifth time the first round of licensing for gas exploration over a political dispute.

The disagreements were over the designation of blocks open for bidding and the terms of a draft exploration agreement.

Lebanon and Israel are bickering over a maritime zone that consists of about 854 square kilometers and suspected energy reserves there could generate billions of dollars.

Lebanese officials have continuously warned that Israel’s exploration of new offshore gas fields near Lebanese territorial waters means the Jewish state is siphoning some of Lebanon’s crude oil.

The U.S. had offered to mediate between the sides in an attempt to reach a solution.

Beirut argues that a maritime map it submitted to the U.N. is in line with an armistice accord drawn up in 1949, an agreement which is not contested by Israel.