Lebanon gave the green light to the consortium of oil companies to start drilling for gas in Block 4 in January 2020, Caretaker Energy and Water Minister Nada Boustani said Friday. “We have given the permit to the oil companies that won the contract to explore for gas in the maritime zone block four in January 2020. The exploration will take around two months and it will take another two months to evaluate the results to determine if there are commercial gas quantities in this block,” Boustani told reporters during a news conference that was attended by representatives of the consortium companies.
In February 2018, Lebanon signed its first offshore oil and gas exploration and production agreements with the Total-Eni-Novatek consortium for offshore blocks 4 and 9.
Lebanon is pinning high hopes on the discovery of gas off the Lebanese coast as this step would boost confidence in the country and improve the country’s credit ratings in the future.
“This event is the result of the accumulated efforts of the previous ministers since 2010, Minister Gebran Bassil, Minister Arthur Nazarian, and Minister Cesar Abi Khalil. The most important of these efforts was preparing the necessary laws and decrees and launching the first licensing round to sign contracts for blocks No. 4 and 9,” Boustani said.
She said this license confirms that the Lebanese state, with its departments and ministries and companies, has completed the required geological, technical, environmental and logistical and administrative preparations, according to the Lebanese regulations and international standards in the petroleum sector.
“The well will be drilled by the Vantage ship currently in Egypt and will head to Lebanon as soon as this process is completed. We expect the ship to arrive during January 2020, and the drilling process will take about two months, in addition to two months to analyze the data and assess the possibility of a commercial exploration or not,” Boustani said.
The Lebanese Petroleum Administration will closely coordinate with the three oil companies during the exploration period on blocks four and nine.
LPA officials have repeatedly said that it is too early to talk about the possible size of hydrocarbons off the Lebanese coast, stressing that once the exploration starts, Lebanon will have a clear idea about the actual size of gas in Lebanon.
Lebanon will also launch the second licensing round for four more offshore blocks in 2020.
According to the Offshore Petroleum Resources Law, companies willing to participate in the tendering process must be prequalified as either operators or non-operators. The prequalification requirements will be announced in due time and will cover legal, technical, commercial, quality, health, safety, and environmental aspects. A tentative four months duration will be reserved for interested companies to submit their prequalification applications.
The Daily Star