Lebanon begins offshore oil and gas exploration

An oil tanker is moored on the northern outskirts of Beirut on December 7, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 29 May 2018

Lebanon begins offshore oil and gas exploration


Lebanon's search for its first oil and gas reserves began on Tuesday after authorities approved an exploration plan submitted by a consortium of France's Total , Italy's Eni and Russia's Novatek.

Energy and Water Minister Cesar Abi Khalil also said in a televised statement that Lebanon hoped to launch a second offshore licensing round by the end of 2018 or early 2019.

In February, Lebanon signed its first offshore oil and gas exploration and production agreements with the Total-Eni-Novatek consortium for offshore Blocks 4 and 9.

Part of Block 9 contains waters disputed with neighbouring Israel but the consortium has said it has no plans to drill in the disputed area.

Khalil said authorities gave the go ahead on Monday for exploration of the two blocks to begin.

The exploration period can last up to three years and the first well is expected to be drilled in 2019, providing all government departments grant necessary licences and permissions "on time and without delay", the minister said.

Khalil has served as energy minister since December 2016 but is now a caretaker minister because Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri has not yet formed a government after parliamentary elections on May 6.

The minister said drilling would determine whether Lebanon had commercial reserves and their scale.

Second round

Lebanon is on the Levant Basin in the eastern Mediterranean where a number of big sub-sea gas fields have been discovered since 2009 in Cypriot, Israeli and Egyptian waters.

Khalil did not say how many or which of the country's 10 offshore blocks would be included in a second licensing round.

Khalil, who in April asked the Lebanese Petroleum Administration (LPA) to prepare for a second licensing round, said authorities were considering modifying existing qualification criteria for firms interested in the next round.

Lebanon tried to launch its first offshore exploration in 2013 but domestic political problems delayed it until 2017.

Khalil previously said the delay, during which time global energy prices plummeted, undermined interest in the first licensing round. In the end, Total-ENI-Novatek was the only consortium to submit an offer out of 51 companies which had qualified since 2013 to bid.

He said on Tuesday he hoped market conditions in 2019 would be better and that companies' positive experience with the first round would lead to wider participation in a second.

Gulf countries strengthen oil coordination amid tensions: Kuwait

Updated 20 May 2019

Gulf countries strengthen oil coordination amid tensions: Kuwait

  • ‘It is normal amid this escalation that Kuwait and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries take these steps’
  • Kuwait was in ‘constant contact’ with its ally, the US

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait’s deputy foreign minister said countries in the Gulf have strengthened coordination to provide oil to global markets amid increased regional tensions.
“It is normal amid this escalation that Kuwait and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries take these steps,” Khalid Al-Jarallah told reporters late Sunday on the sidelines of a Ramadan sit-down organized by the Iraqi embassy.
“There is cooperation and coordination between Kuwait and the Gulf countries to provide guarantees for oil tankers and continuous supply of energy to global markets.”
Jarallah’s comments come days after sabotage attacks against tankers in highly sensitive Gulf waters and the bombing of a Saudi pipeline — the latter claimed by Iran-aligned Yemeni rebels.
Both attacks targeted routes built as alternatives to the Strait of Hormuz, the conduit for almost all Gulf exports.
The US Fifth Fleet headquartered in Bahrain said the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council began “enhanced security patrols” Saturday in international waters, in “tight coordination with the US navy.”
Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the strait in case of war with the United States, which earlier this month announced it was sending an aircraft carrier and strike group to the region.
Kuwait’s deputy foreign minister said “tension was escalating quickly” but he remained hopeful.
He added Kuwait was in “constant contact” with its ally, the US.
On Saturday, OPEC giant Saudi Arabia called for urgent meetings of the GCC and the Arab League to discuss recent “aggressions and their consequences” in the region.
The two summits are scheduled to be held in Makkah on May 30.
Jarallah welcomed the kingdom’s invitation, saying Kuwait was keen to take part in discussions on issues “potentially dangerous” to the region.