Lebanon re-launches first oil and gas licensing round

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26 Jan 2017

Lebanon re-launched its first oil and gas licensing round after a three-year delay, the energy minister said on Thursday, kick-starting the development of a hydrocarbon industry stalled by national political paralysis.

Lebanon has opened five offshore blocks – Blocks 1, 4, 8, 9 and 10 – for bidding in a first licensing round, Minister of Energy and Water Cesar Abou Khalil told a news conference.

In 2013, 46 companies qualified to take part in bidding for oil and gas tenders, 12 of them as operators, including Chevron, Total and Exxon Mobil.

But political paralysis, which left Lebanon without a president for more than two years, meant the licensing process was put on hold.

Abou Khalil said a second pre-qualification round for companies interested in exploration and production contracts would be launched soon.

The re-launch of the licensing round follows the passing of two decrees by Lebanon’s new government earlier this month concerning oil and gas exploration blocks, meaning a tender process for offshore reserves, stalled since 2013, can begin.

Beirut estimates it has 96 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves and 865 million barrels of oil offshore, but squabbling between parties has prevented it from kick-starting exploration and development of the sector.

The decrees define the blocks and specify conditions for production and exploration tenders and contracts.