Exxon Mobil, Chevron, and the National Iranian Drilling Corporation are among the 52 international energy companies submitting applications to participate in Lebanon’s first offshore gas bidding round, the energy minister said after the prequalification deadline.
Despite the political deadlock, caretaker Minister Gebran Bassil said the Petroleum Administration would announce the names of qualified firms on April 18 and begin accepting bids on May 2, as planned.
Two decrees establishing a model exploration and production sharing contract and the number of blocks that will be auctioned off still need to be approved by the Cabinet in order for licenses to be granted, but Bassil pledged to stay on schedule.
“This will not stop the process,” he said. “Of course the government needs to approve the two decrees, however the process of the bidding was announced and adopted by the government of Lebanon. It is effective and it will take place as announced.”
He said that the ministry and the Petroleum Administration had already approved a decree to auction off licenses for 10 separate blocks off Lebanon’s coast and presented it to the Cabinet at last week’s session.
When asked how the decrees can be passed by a caretaker government, Bassil said: “There will be a government. This will not stall or delay the process of bidding."
Energy analyst Roudi Baroudi said that countries of comparable size generally received around 40 prequalification applications and about 20 of them are actually invited to make a bid. However, due to the difficulty involved in deep-sea drilling, he only expects about 12 to 15 companies to prequalify in Lebanon.
“The type of companies that would be most likely to prequalify and win are the companies who have deep offshore exploration and production experience,” Baroudi said. “The BPs, the Totals, ENI, Shell, who have been active in this field and have enough financial strength through their own balance sheets to commit the capital needed for their own exploration. We are talking about billions of dollars.”
The Daily Star