Lebanon will take important steps in the coming few months which will ultimately determine if it is to join the ranks of East Mediterranean countries with offshore gas reserves.
The offshore platform supply vessel Caroline Tide III has docked in the port of Beirut, ahead of the start of the drilling of Lebanon’s first offshore well. A week earlier her sister vessel, Lundstrom Tide, arrived as well in Beirut.
The vessel will support a drilling operation in the Total-operated Block 4, in the Mediterranean Sea.
The vessel, arriving from Cyprus, has a total length of 76 meters and a clear deck area of 710 m2. It is certified to carry up to 50 persons onboard.
A third similar support vessel is expected to arrive within weeks to complete the logistic preparations.
The drilling is expected to start during February with the arrival of the drillship to be used for the Byblos-1 well facing Safra northern area. The drillship in question is the Tungsten Explorer offshore drilling unit, owned by Vantage Drilling. Total’s Block 4 is thought to be highly prone to gas.
A consortium of Total, Italy’s Eni and Russia’s Novatek is expected to start drilling in the country’s Block 9 concession by mid-2020.
If gas does eventually either come ashore in Lebanon or is exported via another route, then the focus will be on what happens to the revenue.
No company or individual interested in Lebanon as a potential energy player can be without this comprehensive examination of the sector and the context in which it operates. The hope must be that it helps open the way for any future discoveries to benefit the country as a whole, and that the detailed research and analysis it provides are not rendered worthless by the vagaries of Lebanon’s flawed political and economy system.
Preventing corruption is a key challenge faced by the oil and gas sector worldwide. This is particularly true in developing countries, as the high level of financial resources generated by recent discoveries can create a breeding ground for corruption and abuse.
Corruption in the oil and gas sector can occur at several stages – from the licensing process to exploration – and on multiple levels (eg, small-scale bribery or structural corruption).
Role of O&G companies, government and civil society are very critical for the future of the country; Limiting risks of corruption, ensuring good governance and enhancing transparency and accountability mechanisms in Lebanon’s oil and gas sector will be the key steps for a strong and developed Lebanon.
Role of civil society
The Transparency Law has granted the civil society, through transparency support associations, the right to continuously monitor the transparency of petroleum activities. The main aim of such associations is to enhance transparency and fight corruption in the oil and gas sector.
These associations also have the right to continuously verify that entities participating in petroleum activities are complying with their obligations.
Transparency support associations are subject to the laws applicable to associations in general and must obtain the required authorisations. The Transparency Law also sets out requirements concerning the members of such associations.
Transparency is not enough if there is no vision or strategy or public consultation for the use of natural resource revenues for sustainable development. These are the main issues now. Civil Society around the Extractive Industry should be created ASAP and start pushing for a discussion about the energy vision and strategy and to pass more laws ensuring public consultation in this sector.