Beirut has announced the start of its oil and gas exploration for offshore energy reserves in the Mediterranean Sea after approving a plan submitted by a consortium of France’s Total, Italy’s Eni and Russia’s Novatek.

In February, the country signed its first offshore oil and gas exploration and production agreements with the Total-Eni-Novatek consortium for offshore Blocks 4 and 9. Part of Block 9 contains waters disputed with neighboring Israel but the consortium said it had no plans to drill in that area.

The exploration period can last up to three years and the first well is expected to be drilled in 2019.  Lebanon shares the Levant Basin in the eastern Mediterranean with Israel, Cyprus, and Syria. A range of big sub-sea gas fields have been discovered in the area since 2009.

However, the country was far behind Israel and Cyprus in exploring and developing its share of resources as a result of political issues over the past few years, and a dispute with Israel over Lebanon’s southern maritime border.

Israel had earlier threatened Lebanon over drilling in areas which it considers to be disputed. It warned Lebanon that it would pay a “full price” if another war breaks out between the two countries.

Lebanon and Israel’s dispute runs over a triangular area of around 860 square kilometers (332 square miles) of waters, which could contain huge reserves of natural gas and maybe even crude oil.

The offshore energy blocks are located in Lebanon’s waters and thus are within Beirut’s exclusive economic zone.

RT.com / AA Flash Point News 2018.

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