Lebanon gets two bids for offshore gas exploration

Lebanon has lofty ambitions to tap into offshore reserves, but political issues have complicated past efforts.
By Daniel J. Graeber  |  Oct. 13, 2017 at 7:51 AM
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Oct. 13 (UPI) -- Lebanese ambitions to draw investors to its offshore reserve potential, notably for natural gas, brought in only two bids, the government reported.

Lebanon in January filed a request to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, a body that aims to cast light on how countries manage their oil, gas and mineral resources. Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil said that, as the country opens itself up to foreign energy investors, accountability was essential.

Decrees put forward by the Lebanese government outline a model for revenue sharing, something that derailed previous efforts to court foreign investors. The Lebanese government estimates there are 95 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 750 million barrels of oil in its territorial waters.

Khalil said Thursday the government received two bids for offshore gas operations, but offered few specifics on the details, the English-language Daily Star reported.

Lebanon has been at odds with Israel over maritime borders in the Mediterranean Sea. Parliament members from Shiite group Hezbollah have pushed for the development of offshore reserves. According to Israeli military leaders, Hezbollah's military arm could hit emerging energy infrastructure centered on the port of Haifa with its missile arsenal.

Israel is working to exploit the gas reserves in the Leviathan and Tamar natural gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea. Delek Drilling, an Israeli company, estimates Leviathan, the larger of the two, holds about 21.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, an estimate that's about 13 percent higher than when the field was discovered in 2010.

Beirut postponed offshore natural gas auctions several times after rancor erupted over the amount of revenue Beirut would get from energy companies.

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