Politics Continue To Delay Lebanon’s Bid Round

Lebanon finally has an official government. Yet the mire of Lebanese politics may further distract leaders from the much-delayed offshore exploration bid round.

Lebanon’s new Energy Minister, Arthur Nazarian, will give interested companies three additional months to submit their bids, MEES understands.

But this period will only begin when Prime Minister Tammam Salam’s cabinet signs off on two key hydrocarbon decrees, governing offshore blocks and fiscal terms, which must be signed before the round proceeds. And it appears unlikely that the new government will address the decrees anytime soon. Indeed, they may well not be signed before Lebanon’s 25 May election deadline, which means the bidding deadline may be pushed back well into the second half of 2014, or even later.

When former Energy Minister Gebran Bassil in late 2013 announced that the deadline for prequalified companies to submit their bids had been extended to 10 April of this year, he insisted that this was to be the final extension. However, MEES analysis at the time indicated that the energy ministry was unlikely to be able to meet its self-imposed schedule given the severe political constraints that have thus far handicapped the bid round (MEES, 10 January). A further delay is no surprise. (CONTINUED - 1030 WORDS)