Lebanon will start drilling for gas in maritime Block 4 before the end of the year and intends to launch a second licensing round in January 2020 if everything goes according to plan, a member of the Lebanese Petroleum Administration said Tuesday.
“The oil companies have been conducting some environmental surveys on both Block 4 and 9. They are taking samples of oil and water from the sea. Total awarded a contract to a company to conduct this survey,” Wissam Chbat told The Daily Star on the sidelines of the Lebanon International Oil and Gas Summit, held at the Hilton Beirut Habtoor Grand.
France’s Total, Italy’s Eni and Russia’s Novatek have been awarded contracts to drill in blocks 4 and 9 in Lebanon’s maritime borders.
Chbat said the companies had decided to drill in Block 4 and then start work in Block 9. He said the firms would select the best spot in Block 4, taking into consideration the geological data they collected in order to achieve the best result.
“There is interdependency between Block 4 and 9, and for this reason, any commercial discovery in Block 4 will give an indication about the prospects of gas reserves in Block 9,” he added.
Chbat emphasized that any positive or negative results in Block 4 would have a direct effect on Block 9.
“The companies will bring a rig to drill for gas and this mobile rig will explore for gas until they find the right spot. These drillships will move from one location to another until they strike gas,” he said.
Chbat said the companies had no problem drilling in Block 9 despite objections from Israel. “They have signed the contracts and will not back down. The exploration in Block 9 may be far from the disputed zone with Israel,” he said.
It is difficult to set up a platform in Lebanon’s maritime zone because of the deep waters, Chbat observed.
During the opening ceremony, Lebanese Petroleum Administration Chairman Walid Nasr announced that the Energy Ministry would keep on executing the exploration strategy in blocks 4 and 9, where an environmental survey of the drilling sites has already started.
“Before the end of 2019, the first exploration drilling will take place in Block 4. It will be followed by exploration drilling in Block 9, with the hope of announcing next year, during this summit, the first exploration in the Lebanese sea,” he said.
Nasr added that the ministry would continue its work toward the completion of the second offshore licensing round proposal, which is expected to be presented to Cabinet later this week.
The Daily Star