Hydrocarbon exploration could start in early 2019

Lebanese offshore reserves
Lebanese offshore reserves © Agenor Energy

Hydrocarbon exploration is taking a lead towards developing Lebanon’s economy. The Ministry of Energy & Water along with the Lebanese Petroleum Administration (LPA) have announced that bidding for the second licensing round for offshore hydrocarbon exploration will commence in early 2019.

For the second licensing round, the LPA has recommended 4 blocks, including 1,5,8 & 10, for offshore hydrocarbon exploration. This recommendation announced was announced by Wissam Chbat, head of the geology and geophysics unit on November 26, during a presentation given at PETEX 2018 in London.

According to a recent publication by Ghalayini et al. (2018) and as per Agenor Energy’s analysis, block 1 consists of Late Cretaceous 4-way closed traps and a mixed thermogenic/biogenic system. Offshore hydrocarbon exploration in this domain, which has reservoirs in the Upper Miocene and Lower Oligocene area have not yet been drilled. They are believed to be different than the base Miocene Tamar sand.

According to the same studies, block 5 and 8 are in the deep basin domain, and are characterized by 3-way traps that are closed against normal faults. It would be judicious to expect that these traps are charged by Oligo-Miocene biogenic gas and the reservoirs are analogous to the base Miocene Tamar sand.

For the hydrocarbon exploration of block 10, which lies along the margin domain and stratigraphic traps, it would be safe to assume that it lies beneath Cretaceous carbonate reefs.

Incidentally, although as yet this is just a recommendation, the exploration of the open blocks will be announced only after the Lebanese council of ministers approves the recommendation through a decree. It would not be too far fetched to assume that the official blocks differ from the recommended ones.

In 2013, during the first round of offshore hydrocarbon exploration, Block 1, 4, 5, 6, and 9 were open for bidding. However, after the tendering process was resumed in 2017, in contrast to the previous recommendations, Block 1, 4, 8, 9, and 10 were put on offer.

Furthermore, since April 2018, Lebanon has been under a caretaker government. Despite the passage of months, cabinet formation is yet to take place since political parties are yet to put forward and nominate their ministers. Since Lebanon’s constitution does not allow a caretaker government to issue decrees, there is a lack of clarity as to when the second round of licensing will actually begin.