Bassil Says Lebanon to Attract Important Oil Companies for Offshore Tendersإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Energy Minister Jebran Bassil revealed on Thursday that the tenders that Lebanon will launch to explore offshore oil and gas will be of high significance.
“The tenders will be more important than those held in Israel and Cyprus as Lebanon will attract superior oil exploration companies,” Bassil said in comments published in As Safir newspaper.
The minister pointed out that he will soon open the door for application by interested oil companies to drill off Lebanon's coast.
Bassil noted that the “unworthy” companies that don't have enough experience will not be able to participate in the tenders, a move that would allow international oil companies to trust the state's management of the affair.
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.
Bassil hailed the cabinet's decision on Wednesday to allow Lebanese oil companies to participate in the tenders to encourage the national firms. This move would contribute to enlarging their businesses and allow them to gain experience in the field.
“This step is essential to highlight Lebanon's oil policies in conformity with international standards,” he noted.
The cabinet set on Wednesday the main principles that would allow oil companies to participate in the tenders.
In January, Bassil revealed that the state will invite for tenders within three months, downplaying the risk of conflict with Israel despite a dispute over the maritime border.
He revealed that European, U.S., Chinese and Russian firms had already shown serious interest in drilling off Lebanon's coast.
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 government has warned that Lebanon will not give up its maritime rights and accuses Israel of violating its waters, territory and air space.
Lebanon has also submitted to the United Nations a maritime map that conflicts significantly with one proposed by Israel.
Lebanon argues its map is in line with an armistice accord drawn up in 1949, an agreement which is not contested by Israel.
The disputed zone consists of about 854 square kilometers (330 square miles), and suspected energy reserves there could generate billions of dollars.