Cabinet to Discuss Thursday Petroleum Authority Members' 'Outrageous' Salariesإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The final cabinet session for the 2012, which includes 49 articles on its agenda, is expected to witness a heated debate over the salaries of the appointed six-member petroleum authority, media reports said on Tuesday.
According to al-Liwaa newspaper, Energy Minister Jebran Bassil will propose during the session on Thursday at the Baabda Palace that the monthly salary of each member of the authority be fixed to nearly $24,000.
The reason behind the high salaries is to “motivate the members of the authority to remain in their positions to maintain their tasks and not to be drawn to offers by private international companies,” An Nahar newspaper said.
The formation of the Petroleum Authority in November was the first major step in future oil exploration since parliament passed a law in 2011 setting the country's maritime boundary and Exclusive Economic Zone.
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, Walid Nasser, Wissam al-Zahabi, Assem Abu Ibrahim, Wissam Shbat and Gaby Daaboul.
Al-Liwaa said that kicking off the oil exploration process off Lebanon's shore will need a minimum of seven years, but the tenure of the authority members is six years whereby the head of the committee will be rotated each year between the six members to appease the major factions in the country.
The authority members and their families will also benefit from full healthcare.
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 Exclusive Economic Zone, 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.