On Tuesday, having received the necessary approval from Lebanon’s authorities, plans were set in motion for the exploration of oil and gas reserves by a consortium of companies, including France’s Total, Russia’s Novatek and Italy’s Eni.
In a televised statement, Lebanon’s Energy and Water Minister, Cesar Abi Khalil, stated that the exploration have begun after receiving the go ahead from authorities on Monday.
He went on to add, Lebanon is likely to also launch a second offshore licensing round by the end of 2018 or by early 2019.
In early 2018, Lebanon had signed its first offshore oil and gas exploration and production agreements with the Total-Eni-Novatek consortium for offshore Blocks 4 and 9.
Incidentally, parts of Block 9 are located in disputed waters with its neighbor Israel.
The consortium has let it be known it has no plans to drill in the disputed area.
According to Khalil explorations of Block 4 and 9 is likely to last up to three years, with the first well expected to be sunk in 2019; this is naturally subject to the consortium receiving the necessary permissions and licenses from Lebanon’s various government departments “on time and without delay”.
In December 2016, Khalil had served as Lebanon’s energy minister. Currently he is a caretaker minister since Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri has yet to form a government after winning the May 6 parliamentary elections.
Incidentally, untill drilling operations begin, it will not be known as to the quantum of reserves that lie in its waters.
Khalil has clarified, exploratory wells will be sunk in areas that show promise for commercially viable discoveries based on seismic studies.