Lebanese Prime Minister Vows to Advance Lebanon Energy Deals

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri promised to prioritize licensing for offshore oil and gas exploration, and said he would be “positive” in dealing with various political factions after suspending his resignation.

Lebanon considers energy exploration a priority and will “move forward” on licensing, Hariri told Bloomberg Thursday on the sidelines of a banking conference in Beirut, where his surprise appearance led to a rush of attendees to the stage seeking handshakes and photos.

Hariri’s comments indicate an eagerness to get on with business after accepting a request from President Michel Aoun to delay his departure from office, temporarily defusing an escalating political crisis. “Our main concern in Lebanon is stability, and this is what we will work for,” Hariri said in a short speech at the conference. Speaking later in an interview, Hariri said he would wait to see the results of consultations among political parties before chairing any cabinet sessions.

Markets have rebounded since Hariri’s return, with the yield on Lebanon’s Eurobonds due in October 2037 falling 6 basis points on Thursday to 7.7 percent, following a 23-point drop a day earlier.

Lebanon wants a share of a burgeoning oil and gas industry in the eastern Mediterranean, where gas fields including the Leviathan and Tamar have been discovered in recent years. An international consortium comprising Total SA, Eni SpA and Novatek PJSC submitted a bid to explore two blocks in Lebanon’s first licensing round in October.

Source: Bloomberg