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


Brent oil trades near 4-year high, but US crude retreats

Updated 26 September 2018
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Brent oil trades near 4-year high, but US crude retreats

  • The US will apply sanctions to halt oil exports from Iran, the third-largest OPEC producer, starting on November 4
  • Brent is on course for its fifth consecutive quarterly increase, the longest such stretch for the global benchmark since early 2007

TOKYO: Brent crude was trading around its highest in nearly four years on Wednesday, while US crude futures fell as Washington tried to assure consumers that the market would be well supplied before sanctions are re-imposed on producer Iran.
Brent crude futures were up 10 cents, or 0.1 percent, at $81.87 a barrel by 0645 GMT, after gaining nearly 1 percent the previous session. Brent rose on Tuesday to its highest since November 2014 at $82.55 per barrel.
US crude futures were down 4 cents at $72.24 a barrel. They climbed 0.3 percent on Tuesday to close at their highest level since July 11.
The US will apply sanctions to halt oil exports from Iran, the third-largest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), starting on November 4. The pending loss of Iranian supply has been a major factor in the recent surge in crude prices.
US officials, including President Donald Trump, are trying to assure consumers and investors that enough supply will remain in the oil market while requesting producers raise their output.
“We will ensure prior to the re-imposition of our sanctions that we have a well-supplied oil market,” Washington’s special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, told a news conference at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday evening.
In an earlier speech at the UN, Trump reiterated calls on OPEC to pump more oil and stop raising prices. He also accused Iran of sowing chaos and promised further sanctions on the country.
The so-called ‘OPEC+’ group, which includes the world’s biggest producer Russia, met over the weekend but did not see the need to add new output as the market is well-supplied currently.
“The lack of new production growth guidance by OPEC does not reflect a desire to let prices appreciate meaningfully further, but rather the historical pattern of OPEC responding to rather than front-running production losses,” Goldman Sachs said in a report.
“We continue to expect that the decline in Iran exports will reach 1.4 million barrels per day, and while it is occurring faster than we had previously expected, we continue to expect it to remain offset by a faster ramp-up in production from other producers.”
The investment bank reiterated its view that “Brent prices will stabilize back in their $70-80/bbl range into year-end.”
Brent is on course for its fifth consecutive quarterly increase, the longest such stretch for the global benchmark since early 2007, when a six-quarter run led to a record-high of $147.50 a barrel.
Meanwhile, in the US, the world’s biggest oil user, an industry report on Tuesday showed crude stockpiles unexpectedly climbed last week.
Crude inventories rose by 2.9 million barrels in the week to Sept. 21 to 400 million, compared with analyst expectations for a decrease of 1.3 million barrels, the American Petroleum Institute said.
Official figures on stockpiles and refinery runs from the US Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration are due at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT) on Wednesday.