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


Visa says over 5 million payments affected by June outage

Updated 19 June 2018
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Visa says over 5 million payments affected by June outage

LONDON: Payment systems giant Visa said Tuesday that a massive technical glitch earlier this month had affected 5.2 million card transactions, almost half of which were in Britain.
Visa, revealing the details in a letter to a British parliamentary committee that is probing the matter, said the “rare” disruption prevented many cardholders form making payments in Europe for 10 hours on Friday June 1.
And the company apologized “unreservedly” for the failure and outlined plans for a compensation scheme.
“Overall, for cards issued both in the UK and elsewhere ... 51.2 million Visa transactions were initiated and sent to Visa’s European systems for processing,” wrote Visa Europe chief executive Charlotte Hogg.
“Of these, 5.2 million failed to process correctly,” she added in the letter to Treasury Select Committee chair Nicky Morgan.
The outage was caused by a “very rare partial failure” of a switch in one of Visa’s data centers, Hogg added. It has since been fixed.
Visa said there were 27.6 million transactions made in the UK during the disruption, of which 2.4 million failed to process properly.
“At its peak, the disruption affected people in the midst of returning home from work, socializing in restaurants and pubs, and doing end-of-day shopping,” Hogg said in the letter published Tuesday.
“We take seriously our important role in supporting financial stability in the UK.
“A disruption to our processing that impacts consumers at any time is unacceptable, let alone during a busy Friday afternoon,” she added.
“We apologize again unreservedly to everyone who was affected by the incident,” Hogg said.
“Visa, together with our financial institution partners, has quickly implemented a compensation program for cardholders.”