Lebanese offshore oil and gas licensing round continues despite political crisis

In this Nov. 6, 2017 photo, vehicles moves on a street in Beirut, Lebanon. (AP)
Updated 11 November 2017
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Lebanese offshore oil and gas licensing round continues despite political crisis

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Energy Minister on Friday called on companies bidding in its first round of licensing to explore for oil and gas in its Mediterranean waters to begin technical discussions, suggesting the process would continue despite the political crisis.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned in a speech from Saudi Arabia last Saturday and has yet to return to the country, sparking a political crisis.
President Aoun has said he will not accept Hariri’s resignation until he returns to the country, while the Lebanese authorities have said they consider the government to still be legitimate.
Energy and Water Minister Cesar Abi Khalil said on Twitter that he signed a document on Friday calling on companies who sub-mitted bids for the offshore license blocks “to negotiate the technical proposals.”
Lebanon sits on the Levant Basin in the eastern Mediterranean where a number of big subsea gas fields have been discovered since 2009, including the Leviathan and Tamar fields situated in Israeli waters near to the disputed marine border with Lebanon.
Lebanon re-launched the tendering competition for the exploration and production rights in January after a three-year delay due to political paralysis.
However, a consortium made up of France’s Total, Italy’s ENI and Russia’s Novatek, made the only offer in the tendering process which closed on Oct. 12, with bids for two of the blocks.
The Lebanese Petroleum Administration has said it will evaluate bids for the offshore blocks and present them to the energy minister by Nov. 13. Final approval will then be sought from Lebanon’s council of ministers.
— REUTERS


Hajj season boosts Middle East hotel demand in August

Updated 24 September 2018
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Hajj season boosts Middle East hotel demand in August

  • Occupancy rates — a measure of the proportion of available rooms sold — in the region jumped to 63.4 percent from 62.1 percent
  • The average daily room rate — another key industry metric — increased 12.2 percent to reach close to $170 per night

LONDON: Demand for hotel rooms across the Middle East leapt last month providing welcome relief for an industry that has been grappling with an oversupply of hotel accommodation, new data showed.
Occupancy rates — a measure of the proportion of available rooms sold — in the region jumped to 63.4 percent from 62.1 percent, according to data provider STR’s research published on Sept. 24.
The average daily room rate — another key industry metric — increased 12.2 percent to reach close to $170 per night, while revenue per available room (RevPar) increased by 14.5 percent to reach $107.50.
The region’s hotel sector has been under pressure due partly to the impact of low oil prices and geopolitical risks, resulting in a slump in room revenue and occupancy as supply exceeded demand.
“It is true in the broader sense that we have been seeing a softening of market-wide RevPar levels in the hospitality sector across most major cities within the GCC countries,” said Ali Manzoor, partner, hospitality and leisure at property consultancy firm Knight Frank.
Analysts have blamed the year-on-year uptick in August on the earlier Hajj season and Eid Al-Adha holiday, rather than indicative of a change in outlook for the sector.
“The spike in occupancy levels in August was largely attributable to differences between the Gregorian and Hijri calendars,” Manzoor said.
This year, the pilgrimage period took place in August, helping to boost the industry’s performance that month. “It is therefore reasonable to expect hotels to underperform in the month of September in relation to last year,” he said.
Looking at data for the year-to-date, the UAE retains the highest occupancy rate in the Gulf region at 72.2 percent, though this represents a slight decline of 0.8 percent compared to the same time period last year, according to STR data.
Saudi Arabia’s occupancy levels stood at 58.1 percent year-to-date, marginally up by 0.2 percent on last year.