Lebanon begins offshore oil and gas exploration
May 29 2018 02:29 PM
Energy and Water Caretaker Minister Cesar Abi Khalil gestures during a news conference in Beirut on Tuesday.


Lebanon's search for its first oil and gas reserves began on Tuesday after authorities approved an exploration plan submitted by a consortium of France's Total , Italy's Eni and Russia's Novatek.
Energy and Water Minister Cesar Abi Khalil also said in a televised statement that Lebanon hoped to launch a second offshore licensing round by the end of 2018 or early 2019.
In February, Lebanon 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 neighbouring Israel but the consortium has said it has no plans to drill in the disputed area.
Khalil said authorities gave the go ahead on Monday for exploration of the two blocks to begin.
The exploration period can last up to three years and the first well is expected to be drilled in 2019, providing all government departments grant necessary licences and permissions "on time and without delay", the minister said.
Khalil has served as energy minister since December 2016 but is now a caretaker minister because Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri has not yet formed a government after parliamentary elections on May 6.
The minister said drilling would determine whether Lebanon had commercial reserves and their scale.

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