The Lebanese Hydrocarbon Sector, a Sleeping Beauty.

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Within the Lebanese American Renaissance Partnership conference on Technology in Lebanon held in collaboration with the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce on June 26, 2015 at the Phoenicia Hotel in Beirut, the Oil and Gas sector had its say. Abboud Zahr, ative in the field and Managing  Director of DEP Levant Oil & Cas in Cyprus, discussed the Lebanese Hydrocarbon Sector, a promising sector, sleeping in the drawers and awaiting to be awaken by a young and dynamic prince.

The Prince proposed through the biggest companies in the World, such as Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total, Chevron, Petrobras, Eni and many others, but the princess is still in doubt. Are expectations going to end in curse or would be a blessing leading to recovery? In a country where public debt exceeds USD 70 billions, people bear a disproportionate burden of poverty and migration flows unlikely to decline; depriving the citizens of such resources is unacceptable.

Unfortunately, the collapse of oil price by approximately 50% lessens the appeal for investment in this industry and tempers the interest in Lebanon at a time where neighboring countries, such as Cyprus and  Israel, are attracting investors and ready to deal with a new market in need.

As soon as Oil and Gas were discovered in this part of the World, the Lebanese Offshore Petroleum Law no 132 was promulgated in 2010, a legislation of higher level, thanks to the efforts of the Norwegians, experts in this field, who helped us draft this law.

The main points focused on, were production sharing agreement, consortium of minimum three companies, at least one of them as operator, award subject to the approval of the Council of Ministers, and sovereign fund. These issues should favor Lebanon and protect its resources and interest.

The Exploration and Production agreement should allow the training of Lebanese nationals, 80% of the right holders personnel and their sub- contractors shall be Lebanese, 10% price advantage on services, 5% price advantages on goods, jobs creation, higher income, cheap energy, appreciation of the Lebanese rating by the international financial institutions, appreciation of the debt solvency, etc that will permit the creation of companies in very new sectors.

The new and promising sector should give a push to the country and open its citizens to the World, giving hopes to many and insuring a decent future for the coming generations. But, where do we stand today? We are where we were five years ago. Time is running, the World is moving, opportunities are lost, and we are still waiting, waiting for what? Hopefully, somebody has an answer.

 

Website Senior Editor.