Oil Exploration Awaits Political Consensus on Two Petroleum Decreesإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Prime Minister Tammam Salam stressed that the endorsement of the two controversial petroleum decrees requires a political consensus, pointing out that he is following up developments in this regard.
“When the rivals reach consensus over the two decrees I will discuss them at the cabinet,” Salam said in comments published in As Safir newspaper on Thursday.
The daily said that Energy Minister Arthur Nazarian recently discussed the matter with Salam.
“Personally I am not aware of any agreement over the two decrees. The rivals are adopting a positive manner in public but I am not sure if there are any hidden intentions,” Nazarian told As Safir.
He urged the political arch-foes to stop wasting time and engage in serious discussions.
There are sharp differences between officials on the endorsement of two oil decrees, the first tackles the demarcation of the 10 maritime oil blocks, and touches on the division of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to several blocks that are not entirely equal. And the second decree, which is linked to setting up a revenue-sharing model, tackles the contracts signed with the international companies.
Lebanon is seeking to renew the interest of international companies in offshore oil exploration despite the stalling of the government in issuing licensing and amid reports that Israel was “stealing” Lebanese gas.
Last August, the government postponed for the fifth time the first round of licensing for gas exploration over a political dispute.
The disagreements were over the designation of blocks open for bidding and the terms of a draft exploration agreement.
Concerning a report saying that Lebanese officials are exerting efforts to hand over the data of a Geological Survey for the country's offshore gas and oil in the North to Norway's Petroleum Commission, Nazarian said that the data is owned by the Lebanese state.
“The ministry and the petroleum authority are preserving the data according to norms,” he said.
Nazarian and the authority added in a statement, issued on Wednesday, that the Lebanese state signed with its Norwegian counterpart a deal to boost Lebanon's capabilities in exploring its offshore wealth, but the sensitive data wasn't handed over to any side.
Experts warned in comments published in As Safir newspaper on Wednesday that the data is considered part of the country's “oil national security,” stressing that it should be classified.
“Leaking the data or handing it over to any side is prohibited,” the experts stressed.