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| 24 February, 2017

Lebanon determined to proceed with offshore gas licensing round

Workers conduct an onshore gas and oil inspection in Batroun, northern Lebanon, October 2, 2013. To match LEBANON-ENERGY/   REUTERS/Mohammed Azakir

Workers conduct an onshore gas and oil inspection in Batroun, northern Lebanon, October 2, 2013. To match LEBANON-ENERGY/ REUTERS/Mohammed Azakir

REUTERS/Mohammed Azakir

24 February 2017

BEIRUT: The Lebanese government is determined to go through with the first round of oil and gas tenders based on transparent standards, Minister of Energy and Water Cesar Abi Khalil said Thursday. The minister was speaking during a workshop attended by international petroleum companies interested in taking part in the first bidding round.

“The Lebanese government is determined to continue the first round of tenders and award the contracts ... to winning companies according to the set conditions,” Abi Khalil said, adding that “Lebanon has adopted transparent criteria in order to outsource its marine blocks.”

He said that the Cabinet has announced its intention to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative to guarantee the transparency of the process. The EITI is a global standard that pushes for accountability in projects involving the extraction of natural resources.

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Interested companies have until March 31st to submit their offers to the Lebanese government.

The minister had announced in January that three partially disputed offshore blocks bordering Israel will be among the five initially up for bidding in Lebanon’s first oil and gas licensing round.

The assigned blocks are 1, 4, 8, 9 and 10.

A prequalification round started on Feb. 2 and will continue until March 31. Companies will be able to submit their bids on the open blocks before Sept. 15.

Out of the 52 companies that applied for prequalification in the first licensing round in 2013, 46 were accepted. These companies will have to prequalify again to be eligible to bid in the new round.

Israel has expressed concern over three of the five maritime blocks – 8, 9 and 10 – due to their proximity to its maritime borders.

Lebanon’s Army has since asked UNIFIL to demarcate the two countries’ maritime borders as they did with the Blue Line.

© Copyright The Daily Star 2017.