Civil Society efforts in Lebanon – where it is very active – were instrumental in the passing of laws by the Lebanese Parliament. It agreed to a transparent contracting process, disclosure of tenders and bidding results, and disclosure of the contracts with the oil companies.
Using these laws, it is now possible to access information on new deals and revenues from the hydrocarbon sector.
As per the Right of Access to Information Law no. 28 dated 10/2/2017), any request for information related to the Lebanese Petroleum Administration (LPA) can be requested from the Legal Affairs Department, the LPA shall submit its reply within two weeks.
Furthermore, Lebanon is one of the very few countries in the World which publishes its production sharing agreements sign between the Ministry of Energy and the consortium exploring the Lebanese offshore. Till now, Lebanon awarded two offshore blocks to a consortium consisting of Total, ENI and Novatek.
On the 25th of January 2017 the Council of Ministers issued an unequivocal public statement declaring its intention to join the EITI and appointed the Minister of Energy and Water as the EITI Champion to lead the implementation process. In this regard, the decision of Lebanon to join the EITI complements the legislative framework in place which already imbeds transparency measures through different channels along the petroleum activities value chain.
The drive now is to revise the sub-contracting process. This was identified as the area where most susceptible to corruption. The effort is to address these issues by ensuring proper oversight, fair economic opportunity, transparency and open procurement, including any facilitation fees. All subcontracts, goods and services, should be disclosed, including beneficial ownership – with all subcontractor ownership details published. Civil Society in Lebanon is active in ensuring that this happens, with increasing success.
Similar efforts are expended in ensuring transparent environmental and safety impact assessments, with full disclosure and full public consultation.
But it was agreed that such laws are as good as the readiness of the authorities to apply them. In most countries the laws exist, but they are not being applied or are being selectively applied.