Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said that the potential discovery of petroleum resources in the Mediterranean Sea along Lebanon’s coast bolsters hopes for economic growth and prosperity.
He said during his patronage of the “Oil and Gas Forum: Roadmap” at Ecole Superieure des Affaires (ESA) in Beirut: “Lebanon’s main goal is to achieve ideal development and sustainability of resources so that all Lebanese people and generations to come can benefit from them.”
He stressed that his government gives priority to “wise governance and sound administration of this sector.”
Hariri announced that his cabinet will soon approve the draft-law on the tax regulations linked to petroleum activities, which will then be referred to parliament.
“The first round of maritime licenses was also relaunched in 2017 in order to attract best oil companies in the world,” declared the Lebanese prime minister.
He explained that between 2000 to 2002, geophysical service companies performed two-dimensional multi-client surveys within Lebanon’s maritime Exclusive Economic Zone. This was followed by a geologic and geophysical survey in 2004 to determine hydrocarbon potential of the area.
“Results showed the promising potential of hydrocarbon reserves in our seabed. Since then, Lebanon has taken several steps to make it closer to becoming an oil- and gas-producing country,” he added.
In 2010, the parliament ratified the offshore Petroleum Resource Law. This law sets the foundations for ensuring prudent production of hydrocarbons, while providing long-term investment incentives, and a sustainable revenue management mechanism through the establishment of a Sovereign Wealth Fund.
This was followed, in 2012, by the appointment of the Lebanese Petroleum Administration, to act as a regulator for the sector, continued Hariri.
Since 2012, the work undertaken by the Lebanese Petroleum Administration, including the Strategic Environment Assessment, as well as the extensive work undertaken by the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Environment, the ministerial committees, and parliament, prepared the grounds for the oil and gas sector to emerge.
“To signal the importance we give to this sector, our new government passed in its first meeting two pending decrees related to the Tender Protocol, the Model contract and block delineation,” stressed Hariri.
He underlined the government’s determination to place a national energy roadmap that “merges Lebanon’s economic, social, geopolitical and developmental policies.”
“This national energy policy will be characterized by proper governance and accountability. Cutting across all Downstream, Midstream, and Upstream aspects of the oil and gas industry, it will address environment, public health, education, vocational training, scientific research, revenue management, corporate governance and transparency,” he added.
“Today, the government is determined to go through with the first round of oil and gas tenders in a transparent fashion. This has been highlighted by the cabinet’s decision to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, (EITI) which is a multi-stakeholder initiative that offers civil society a seat at the table and empowers them to actively contribute to governing their national wealth by having general oversight over the oil and gas sector.”
“Our aim is to increase employment, strengthen our social safety nets and raise living standards. We are hopeful that this will bring about a new economic reality that will raise demand for employment enough to curb migration of our youth out of the country.”
“Notwithstanding the expected positive effects, we will take appropriate precautions to minimize any negative consequence from the production of oil and gas. We are well aware of the risks attached to sudden resource discoveries and we fully intend to minimize any potential negative impact,” stressed, Hariri.
“We plan to successfully transform our natural resource wealth into sustained economic growth and poverty reduction through the appropriate fiscal and structural policies.”
Note that the event was held in Beirut at ESA Business School on 7th March 2017 in the presence of Lebanese officials, economists, key international speakers, energy and business experts, and concerned NGO personalities delivering substantive interventions to an audience comprised of key multi-sectoral players, specialized press and blog editors, and representatives of the country’s civil society, in addition to university students.