Jumblat Hails Reactivation of Lebanon's Oil and Gas File

Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat hailed on Saturday the reactivation of efforts with regard to Lebanon's oil and gas wealth, after a dispute over excavation between the Free Patriotic Movement and the AMAL Movement was reportedly settled a day earlier.

“It seems that the oil file which has been pending for years will finally be tackled,” said Jumblat via his Twitter account.

“In order to preserve this national wealth and benefit from it, it may be useful that we take advantage of remarks made by an expert in the oil field Nicolas Sarkis,” he added.

Jumblat stressed that it is crucial that the file is handled with transparency by the legal and financial figures, he said: “A transparent legal and financial management here is crucial. It is better that things remain clear because the issue can not endure confusion.”

Jumblat's comments came a day after the FPM and the AMAL Movement met in Ain el-Tineh and announced that they have settled their dispute over the excavation of Lebanon’s offshore oil and gas reserves.

The disagreement between the two parties has hindered agreements on energy extraction for years.

Lebanon and Israel are bickering over a zone that consists of about 854 square kilometers and suspected energy reserves that could generate billions of dollars.

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.

In March 2010, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated a mean of 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil and a mean of 34.5 trillion cubic meters of recoverable gas in the Levant Basin in the eastern Mediterranean, which includes the territorial waters of Lebanon, Israel, Syria and Cyprus.

In August 2014, 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.

Lebanese officials have continuously warned that Israel's exploration of new offshore gas fields near Lebanese territorial waters means the Jewish state is syphoning some of Lebanon's crude oil.

Beirut argues that a maritime map it submitted to the U.N. is in line with an armistice accord drawn up in 1949, an agreement which is not contested by Israel.

Source: Naharnet

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