Gas File Put on Right Track after Initial Agreement to Revive Explorationإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The offshore gas exploration file is being put on the right track following Speaker Nabih Berri's campaign to adopt decrees that are necessary to stop Israel from drilling oil from Lebanon's reserves.
Local dailies on Wednesday quoted Berri as saying that an agreement was reached among Energy Minister Arthur Nazarian, the head of the parliamentary energy committee, MP Mohammed Qabbani, and the members of the Petroleum Administration to revive the file.
Last August, 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.
But the newspapers quoted Berri as telling his visitors that he agreed with Nazarian, Qabbani and the Petroleum Administration during a meeting they held on Monday to adopt a series of measures to reactivate the file, including the adoption of the decrees in parliament and the cabinet.
The conferees have also agreed on the designation of blocks, with priority given to those in Lebanon's territorial waters near the border with Israel.
Berri warned on several occasions that the Jewish state is “stealing” huge amounts of gas through a pipeline that runs along Lebanon's waters.
The speaker has been also calling for the demarcation of the southern territorial waters.
As Safir daily asked United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson about the international community's possible assistance in the demarcation process.
Eliasson said he discussed the issue with Berri during his visit to Beirut. “I also remember very well that we talked about the same subject two years ago.”
“We are now in the same situation and I understand the worries of Speaker Berri,” he said.
“We agreed to remain in contact about this issue. But any U.N. mediation in that regard requires a request made by the Lebanese and Israeli sides,” Eliasson told As Safir.
“We haven't so far received any such Israeli request,” he said.