BEIRUT: Preliminary drilling results in Block 4 failed to verify the existence of a gas reservoir, but "it proved the presence of gas at various depths within the geological layers penetrated by the well in the geological region bordering the Lebanese coast [Basin margin area]," Lebanons Energy and Water Minister Raymond Ghajar said Monday.

"The companies did discover hydrocarbon in different locations in Block 4. But it has not been substantiated yet whether there are commercial quantities in this block," the minister told a news conference regarding the quantity of hydrocarbon discovered to date by French oil company Total and its partners in Block 4 off the Lebanese coast.

Exploration will start in Block 9 once the circumstances are ripe, Ghajar added.

Total has signed two Exploration and Production Agreements for Blocks 4 and 9, with the Lebanese Republic. The drillship reached Lebanese waters on Feb. 25, 2020.

Lebanon was pinning high hopes on discovering commercial gas quantities in two of the 10 blocks it auctioned off.

"Lebanon entered the path of exploration in the Lebanese marine waters in Blocks 4 and 9 beginning of 2018. According to the exploration and production agreements belonging to these two areas, the first exploration period extends for a period of three years ending in May of the year 2021, the minister said.

Ghajar confirmed that "companies with oil rights have to drill one exploration well in each of the areas 4 and 9 during this period."

He said: "On Dec. 12, 2019, the energy and water minister issued, on the recommendation of the Petroleum Sector Management Authority, a license to drill an exploration well in Patch No. 4, which includes determining the location and depth of the geological target that the drilling targeted at a depth of 4,076 meters from the sea surface."

Ghajar presented the initial data resulting from drilling the exploration well in Block 4, adding that the final detailed report would be issued at a later period after analyzing the data and samples obtained from the well.

The preliminary results of the drilling proved the presence of gas at various depths within the geological layers penetrated by the well in the geological region bordering the Lebanese coast [Basin margin area], which makes this region a promising geological region. As a result of the presence of gas in this well, the basic elements of a geo-petroleum system were confirmed in the Lebanese sea, but the existence of a gas reservoir was not verified, he added.

The minister explained that the first exploration well has achieved one of the primary goals for which it is drawn, which is to ascertain the nature of the geological layers and the similarities and differences between them and what exists in the Levantine basin, which enhances the understanding of the geological reality of part of the Lebanese sea.

The geological and petro-physical data obtained from this well are a wealth of information that will contribute to enhancing the chances of a commercial discovery in the multiple locations identified in patch 4 of the Energy and Water Ministry, and the authority and more than 60 specific locations along the Lebanese Sea, he added.

He pointed out that "the drilling activities have resulted in obtaining samples and pieces that will be subject to analysis by Total and the authority in preparation for the modernization of the geological - petroleum system of the region," noting that "the drilling work was carried out in waters with a depth of 1,500 meters and a layer of salt rock was penetrated with a thickness of 1,000 meters before reaching the promising target layers.

With regard to Block 9, the minister indicated that "the data collected from the first well in Block No. 4 will contribute to improving the analytical processes accompanying exploration work in Block No. 9 and in determining the best possible geological target to be targeted in excavation work."

The minister reminded that "the exclusive petroleum license granted under the Exploration and Production Agreement gives the consortium of companies the option to continue exploration activities in Block 4 after obtaining the results of analyzing the results of the first exploration well drilling.

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