Politics Prioritized As Lebanon Advances Bidding Plans

With a new president, Lebanon plans to make its first offshore awards by end-2017. But focusing on acreage part-claimed by Israel risks derailing the process.

Lebanon this week released details of the five blocks on offer in the country’s first ever bid round which it hopes to award by the end of 2017.

The timeline is ambitious, especially given that three of the five blocks – numbers 8, 9 and 10 – contain a 854km² wedge also claimed by Israel (see map), with whom Lebanon has no diplomatic relations. The other two, 1 and 4, are in the north of Lebanon’s offshore – further from existing Israeli, Cypriot and Egyptian finds. No drilling has ever taken place offshore Lebanon.

“Politically we had no choice but to include these [disputed] blocks. We had to show that this is our territory,” a senior figure in the country’s oil hierarchy tells MEES. “IOCs can just ignore those blocks if they want, there will be others to choose from,” he told MEES just before the details of the blocks were released. With only two non-controversial blocks on offer it is likely that only these will attract interest. (CONTINUED - 649 WORDS)

DATA INSIDE THIS ARTICLE

table Lebanon Bidding: 2013 Pre-Qualifiers