Energy and Water Minister Arthur Nazarian denied a political dispute between rivals over the importance of reactivating Lebanon’s oil and gas exploration.
“There are no political or theoretical differences between the members of the Cabinet and Parliament in the importance of reactivating the matter,” Nazarian told reporters after a meeting with Prime Minister Tammam Salam at the Grand Serail in presence of head of Parliament’s Public Works committee Mohammad Qabbani.
He underlined that there are no “compelling reasons to delay the matter any further, on the contrary we should wrap it up quickly.”
Nazarian had warned previously that international oil companies could lose interest in bidding for oil and gas exploration in Lebanon if the government fails to speed up licensing procedures.
The minister said that reactivating the oil exploration file will kickstart with the first meeting of a ministerial committee headed by Salam to discuss two decrees that would pave the way for the first licensing round for offshore gas exploration in Lebanon’s exclusive economic zone and then propose them before the Cabinet.
The first licensing round was postponed in August 2014 for the fifth time due to political disagreements over the decrees pertaining to the designation of blocks that would be open for bidding and the terms of a draft on the Exploration and Production Agreement.
Nazaria expressed hope that the Cabinet would convene soon to tackle the matter “which forms Lebanon’s future.”
Lebanon’s potential offshore natural gas reserves are estimated at 25 trillion cubic feet, according to initial estimates carried out in the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The estimates are based on 2-D and 3-D seismic surveys carried out over the past few years in Lebanon’s EEZ.
The meeting was held in presence of lawmakers Nidal Tohme, Joseph Maalouf, Alwaleed Sekariye and Hikmat Deeb and a delegation from the oil commission. A similar meeting was held on Thursday in Ain el-Tineh with Speaker Nabih Berri.
Source: The Daily Star