Lebanon relaunched its first oil and gas exploration and production licensing round after a three-year delay, its energy minister said on Thursday.
The road map for the first offshore licensing round extends over a period of ten months starting February 2017.
Lebanon has opened five offshore blocks (1,4,8,9 and 10) for bidding in its first licensing round, Minister of Energy and Water Cesar Abou Khalil announced in a news conference.
Lebanon, along with Cyprus, Israel and Egypt, sits on the Levant Basin in the eastern Mediterranean where new gas fields have been discovered since 2009.
In 2013, 46 companies qualified to take part in bidding for oil and gas tenders in Lebanon, 12 of them as operators, including Chevron, ENI, Total and Exxon Mobil.
Abou Khalil said these companies will remain qualified to bid and a second pre-qualification round for any more companies interested in exploration and production contracts would run between Feb. 2 and March 31. The qualifying companies will be announced on April 13, he said.
Pre-qualified companies will submit their bids to the Lebanese Petroleum Administration on Sept. 15 2017 where they will be considered for a month before being passed to the energy minister and then to the cabinet for final approval.
Three of the five blocks opened for bidding border Israeli waters (8, 9 and 10). Lebanon considers Israel an enemy state and has an unresolved maritime border dispute with it.
Abou Khalil said the choice of blocks offered in the first licensing round was dictated by the likelihood of finding exploitable quantities of oil and gas, and by the need to protect Lebanon’s resources along its border.
The government is still discussing the petroleum tax law. Once done, it will be submitted to the Parliament for final approval.
The road map includes several milestones that will pave the way to the award of to start exploration and production activities in the
Oil and Gas companies are invited to participate in a consultation workshop that will take place in Lebanon on 23 February 2017.
The LPA will undertake the evaluation process of the bids within a period of one month to end on 16 October 2017.
Consequently the Council of Ministers will make a decision as to the award Exploration and Production contracts to the winning consortia.
February 02-March 31: Additional Pre-qualification round for new interested companies
April 13: Publish the list of Pre-qualified companies
September 15: Deadline to place bids
September 22: Publish the list of applicants per block
October 16: Bid evaluation by the Lebanese Petroleum Administration
November 15: Council of Ministers approval of Exploration and Production Agreements.