Lebanon begins offshore oil and gas exploration

Offshore Oil 2The consortium will not drill in the areas under dispute between Israel and Lebanon. (Image source: Selbe Lynn/Flickr)Lebanon on Tuesday approved an exploration plan submitted by a consortium of international energy companies, setting off the search for its first oil and gas reserves

The consortium led by France's Total, along with Italy's Eni and Russia's Novatek signed two exploration and production agreements in February covering Blocks 4 and 9 located offshore Lebanon.

Total and Eni have a 40 per cent interest in the consortium with Novatek holding the rest.

Energy and Water Minister Cesar Abi Khalil said in a televised statement that exploration started after authorities gave the go-ahead on Monday. Lebanon hoped to launch a second offshore licensing round by the end of 2018 or early 2019, he said, according to a Reuters report.

Total, which is the operator of the blocks, said that the consortium would not drill explore the part of Block 9 which is part of a dispute between Israel and Lebanon.

According to the report, Khalil said that the exploration of the two blocks would last up to three years and the first well is expected to be drilled in 2019 if there are no delays.

The exploratory wells will be dug in the areas with the highest probability of commercially viable discoveries based on seismic studies, Khalil said, according to Reuters.

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