52 Major Global Firms Bid to Explore for Oil in Lebanese Watersإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Fifty-two major global companies have submitted bids to explore for oil and gas in Lebanon's territorial waters, caretaker Energy and Water Minister Jebran Bassil announced on Thursday.
"Fifty-two firms have submitted bids," Bassil said at a press conference he held at the ministry, as an adviser to the minister announced the names of the companies, which include Norway's Statoil and the American multinational corporation ExxonMobil.
"The terms and conditions are legal, financial, technical and environmental,” said Bassil.
He noted that “almost all the global firms have submitted bids, which highlights the confidence in Lebanon.”
“It's a gift to the Lebanese for the holidays and this indicates that Lebanon's resurrection will inevitably happen,” Bassil added.
“We achieved great success in attracting companies seeking to explore for oil,” said Bassil.
“Lebanon is an oil-producing country and the concession process was transparent as it had successful terms and conditions that are not open to interpretation and many companies did not submit a request as they lacked the ability to meet the conditions,” he added.
On February 15, Bassil announced the opening of the pre-qualification period for oil exploration companies interested in exploring Lebanon's offshore oil and gas reserves.
“The deadline for submitting applications will be on March 28 and the Petroleum Authority will announce after three weeks the list of accepted companies then we will begin the round of tenders, which will last until the end of the year,” Bassil said at a press conference.
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 minister reiterated that Lebanon will witness the first oil exploration process in 2015 and it will take the country a year to enter the production stage.
“Lebanon is on the path of producing oil and gas, there's no chance to go back now or stop... The dream became true, and reality will become prosperity,” Bassil told reporters.
He pointed out that the challenges are many “but we will overcome them.”
Bassil pledged to respect all the international standards and protocol concerning the matter.
“We began the seismic surveys which proves our success in that regard,” the minister added, calling on the government to respect the timing.
The cabinet endorsed plans in January 2012 to implement legislation that will clear the way for offshore oil and gas exploration.
In August 2011, the parliament passed a law setting Lebanon's maritime boundary and Exclusive Economic Zone.
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.