Lebanon to kick start its natural gas industry

Mar 10, 2014 12:00 AM

Lebanon will press on with plans for its first offshore gas licensing round, despite a recent spate of unrest in the country.

Beirut estimates it has some 2.7 trillion cubic metres of natural gas reserves but political dysfunction has prevented it from kick-starting exploration and development of the sector.

Speaking at an economic forum in Beirut, Energy Minister Arthur Nazarian said the ministry was committed to developing the sector, which many officials see as a way for Lebanon to deal with its debt and rampant power outages.

Seismic surveys have indicated the possibility of "promising" offshore oil and gas finds and a second stage of land surveys is underway, he said, urging the government to capitalise on the progress made so far.
The decrees that need to be approved include ones that would define the blocks and specify conditions for production and exploration agreements.

The bidding round for exploration and production has been delayed three times already. April 10 is the current date set for them to begin.
The previous energy minister, Gebran Bassil, had said the latest delay would be the last and that bidding would go forward whether the decrees were approved or not. But with the new government, it is not clear if that is still likely to happen.

Forty-six companies have been selected to bid for gas exploration, 12 of them as operators, including Chevron, Total and ExxonMobil.
A dispute over who would run the energy ministry, which has been given extra weight by the potential for gas and oil production, was one of the stumbling blocks holding up the formation of the new government.

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