Lebanese offshore licensing logjam loosens

A political logjam that has kept Lebanon out of promising natural gas development in the Eastern Mediterranean has begun to loosen.

The Lebanese cabinet on Jan. 4 passed two decrees reviving work toward exploration and development licensing. Progress stalled in 2013, 3 years after passage of an offshore petroleum law.

The election late last year of Michel Aoun as president removed one impediment to licensing (OGJ Online, Nov. 4, 2016). The cabinet couldn’t act until his position, vacated in May 2014, was filled.

In a prequalification round held before work on licensing met the political impasse, international operators expressed strong interest in Lebanese offshore prospects, which are close to deepwater discoveries off Israel and Cypress.

The new decrees address the definition of offshore blocks and conditions of exploration and production contracts. Details remain sketchy.

Apparently still to be addressed is a territorial dispute with Israel over an offshore area covering 870 sq km.

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