Lebanese Leaders Laud Formation of Petroleum Authority after Months of Bickering

إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية W460

Lebanon's political leaders hailed on Thursday the formation of the Petroleum Authority, the first major step in future oil exploration since parliament passed a law last year setting the country's maritime boundary and Exclusive Economic Zone.

The appointment of the six-member committee for a six year term by the cabinet on Wednesday “is more than important and comes as part of the government’s achievements,” Speaker Nabih Berri told An Nahar newspaper.

As Safir daily said the speaker had lately exerted a huge pressure on the parties concerned to reach an agreement on the appointment of the Petroleum Authority after months of bickering on the names and its presidency.

The move “falls in the interest of all the Lebanese and future generations no matter to which side they belong to,” Berri said, adding “it would lead to an economic boom, resolve the debt problem and put Lebanon in the club of oil producing states in the region.”

Berri advised “all parties to benefit from this economic opportunity.”

Prime Minister Najib Miqati echoed a similar view, telling As Safir that the appointment of the members was “a huge Lebanese achievement.”

“The Petroleum Authority is risen truly risen!” he said.

The members of the authority that has the power to negotiate with international oil companies and issue licenses for the winning firms are Nasser Hteit (Shiite), Walid Nasser (Greek Catholic), Wissam al-Zahabi (Sunni), Assem Abu Ibrahim (Druze), Wissam Shbat (Maronite) and Gaby Daaboul (Greek Orthodox).

The head of the committee will be rotated each year between the six members to appease the major factions in the country.

Energy Minister Jebran Bassil told As Safir that following the formation of the Authority, “we now look forward to issuing tenders by the end of the year which received the full backing of the government.”

The members of the committee, who were chosen from among 618 candidates, “are the most competent,” he said, denying that they were only named for sectarian quotas although the government’s sudden approval of the names from outside the agenda on Wednesday was a clear sign that political leaders had finally reached an agreement on the division of confessional shares.

“Half of the members belong to the previous team that worked with me in drafting the oil law,” Bassil added.

Lebanon has been slow to exploit its maritime resources compared with other eastern Mediterranean countries. Israel, Cyprus and Turkey are all much more advanced in drilling for oil and gas.

The country has submitted to the United Nations a maritime map that conflicts significantly with one proposed by Israel.

The disputed zone consists of about 854 square kilometers (330 square miles), and suspected energy reserves there could generate billions of dollars.

Two companies working with the Lebanese authorities that specialize in three-dimensional exploration have already surveyed around half the EEZ, Bassil said in September.

They found a large number of gas reservoirs all along the coast.

The area off the southern coast alone contains 12 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, the minister said.

Comments 20
Missing phillipo 08 November 2012, 08:50

"The disputed zone consists of about 854 square kilometers (330 square miles), and suspected energy reserves there could generate billions of dollars."
Could you just imagine the economic advantages if there was actually co-operation between Lebanon and Israel instead of animosity.
Israel's advances in this field could easily be spread into the Lebanese areas bringing a much needed forward push into the Lebanese economy.

Missing phillipo 08 November 2012, 10:50

Just when was the last time that Lebanon even offered to co-operate with Israel.
I'm quite sure that any Lebanese Government which finally decides that co-operation is preferale to confrontation, will find a very attentive and willing Israeli Government.

Missing helicopter 08 November 2012, 15:40

H.A doesn't know cooperation. they know theft, extortion, threat and brute force.
they tried to steal our land and succeeded, they tried to assassinate their political opponents and succeeded, they tried to steal our electricity and succeeded, they will try to steal our oil resources and hopefully will fail

Thumb lebanon_first 08 November 2012, 15:43

Philippo. We dont need israel's advances in the field. We have our own diaspora in the qatar and Algeria who are expert in gas exploration, and they dont have hidden agendas. Also we dont want war with israel, we want peace. But we dont want brotherly relations. Israel sent us 400,000 palestinians. Let them take them back or negotiate with some country to take them from us. Once they unburden us from this weight, we can start talking. Meanwhile let us not pretend that all is rosy.

Missing phillipo 08 November 2012, 21:02

Firstly, Israel didn't send you 400,000 Palestinians.
Secondly if it did, 95% of them would now be dead after 64 years.
The people you call Palestinians are held in camps, not by Israel but by the Lebanese Government (Mind you it's just the same in Syria, Iraq and Jordan)

Thumb gebran_sons 08 November 2012, 08:55

What a sad news! After this political mafia robbed Lebanese of their livelihood and transformed Beirut, the preferred historical regional headquarter to all foreign corporation into a bankrupt ghost town sitting on the Basij arsenal with an hostaged lone airport; causing exodus of all respectable foreign corporation from Lebanon; after this government legacy of corruption, increased debt, higher taxation, diminishing productivity, zero growth; now they have set their eyes on robbing future generations and the country natural resources... no doubt emulating the Iranian model of buying more arms, rockets and oppressive Basij; and maybe embarking on a similar nuclear nirvana. This is a victory for mafia politics and a sad day for all young Lebanese having their future robbed in broad daylight.

Missing chouf2 08 November 2012, 12:24

phillipo why should we co-operate with Israel,this is our Oil the jews can take a hike ..

Missing phillipo 08 November 2012, 21:06

If you would have read what I wrote you will not see anywhere where I said that Israel should get your oil. All I said was that Lebanon would save years of exploration and huge costs to get their own oil flowing sooner.
The only hike the Jews are going to take is that which will get their gas to both the national and international markets years before the Lebanese.

Thumb eli-g 08 November 2012, 12:59

@ Gebran you took the words out my mouth.
20 years from now our children will wonder what happened to our natural resoueces?Berri said "all parties to benefit from this economic opportunity"I wonder what he meant by "parties"?

Thumb lebanon_first 08 November 2012, 15:45

we can let berri benefit instead of his son.

Thumb eli-g 08 November 2012, 13:02

Untill the Lebanese people hold their politicians acountable for their actions, this will benefit none but the politicians themselves.

Default-user-icon JC Williams (Guest) 08 November 2012, 13:30

phillipo what a phony ,foolish dreamworld you suggest. Israel will cooperate with Lebanon by patrolling it's airspace ,overproducing and destroying your infrastructure and then blaming Lebanon for Israeli aggression., What world do you live in? Berri should be congratulated for actually doing something. This is one of Lebanon's most inportant issues , especially in the long term and it is way past time that this was accomplished. The Miqati government again puts itself in a position to do the right thing for Lebanon. I wonder what March 14 will do? They can't let this happem.

Thumb lebanon_first 08 November 2012, 20:16

it is not about M8 or M14. Mikati is a better businessman than hariri. he has more maturity. more experience. Hence he did a better job than hariri junior. (notwithstanding the fact that HA have unwelcome illegal weapons.)

Missing peace 08 November 2012, 21:47

"M14 sent Lebanon into a debt of over 50 billion$"

could you please stop distorting the facts? M14 exists only since 2005. the theft of the state started the day the syrians entered lebanon and imposed the corruption system to better have a hand on the politicians and play them like puppets.
Leaders from M8 were also part of the theft of the state as they also had responsibilities in the syrian governments!
so you d better ask your dear leaders to pay back what they have stolen too and stop throwing the blame on one camp to make M8 appear like they did nothing! typical blindness from a M8 supporter!
and M14 ruled only a year or two as all the reforms were blocked by M8 which shut down the parliament, forgot that too?
and if you accuse me of being biased, i advise you to read what aoun said about the theft of the lebanese state when he was not working for his new hezbi pimp!

Default-user-icon LebExile (Guest) 08 November 2012, 18:59

JC - very creative take on history.
March 14 took power in 2006, at which point the previous pro-syrian/prob HA governmnets had accumulated a national debt of $42 billion.
Then, during the short period when March 14 actually did rule, HA goes and starts a war with Israel, costing Lebanon billions in damages and lost economic opportunities.
This not to mention the electricity losses due to the fact that Hizb members refuse to py their electric bills, and will beat up a bill collector who dares enter their area.

Default-user-icon we are one! we are lebanese! (Guest) 08 November 2012, 19:44

nsahala the government can use the money that comes from these exploits and create a strong economy that doesn't have to depend on selling finite resources

Missing peace 08 November 2012, 21:41

israel doesn t need to steal the oil resources, our politicians will take care of that and give only tiny crumbs to lebanese people....

Default-user-icon Marc Y (Guest) 08 November 2012, 22:10

can we see the CV /qualifications of the members of the Petroleum Authority?

Missing roger@10452 09 November 2012, 03:15

can someone tell us what the qualifications are of these six men besides their religion???

Default-user-icon Hag (Guest) 09 November 2012, 12:29

This is interesting. First of all, BOTH 14 and 8 march contributed in piling up the national debt. Especially Berri, Hariri-Sanyoura, and Jumblat. Aoun, geagea and Gemayil didn't get the chance to steal yet. Although I am sure that day will come. Every single lebanese political party is corrupt. Stop blaming 14 or 8 and ignoring what the politician you're affiliated to has done to this country.
This country is hopeless in my opinion. The people here are dumb. You see them come here to curse politicians in general, yet they vote for them in the next elections for a buck or two.
I was suprised by the likes the pro-israeli comments got. What have we come to? Seriously? Just because Hizb pushes your button you got all friendly with the israelis? That's low. Enjoy this bad excuse of a country guys, keep fighting like headless chicken.