BEIRUT — The Energy Ministry announced Wednesday that it will extend until Dec. 15, 2022, the deadline by which energy companies can apply for pre-licenses to explore Lebanon’s offshore territory in search of potential hydrocarbon deposits. The ministry’s previous deadline for applying for pre-licenses expired today, according to a source at the Energy Ministry.
Here’s what we know:
• In a statement issued Wednesday, the Energy Ministry said that the decision came in response to the recommendation made by the Lebanese Petroleum Administration in order “to allow additional companies which do not already work on Lebanese offshore [areas] to prepare their files and participate in the coming [pre-licensing] round which opens space for an acceptable level of competition between international oil and gas companies.”
• In February 2018, after years of delaying the matter, Lebanon awarded a consortium of Total, ENI and Novatek the right to explore the Lebanese offshore area with the aim to find natural gas. To date, No significant hydrocarbon reserves have been discovered by the consortium.
• In addition to block 4 of the offshore territory, the three companies were awarded block 9, which is partially located in maritime territory disputed with Israel.
• On Tuesday, the US mediator in the Lebanese-Israeli maritime border negotiations, Amos Hochstein, left Lebanon after a two-day visit during which he said in an interview with Alhurra TV that the Lebanese President Michel Aoun gave him a proposal regarding Lebanon’s maritime border claims. Hochstein did not reveal the content of Aoun’s proposal, saying he would communicate it to the Israelis first.
• On Monday, a source from the Presidential Palace in Baabda told L’Orient Today that during the indirect negotiations with Israel, Lebanon is going to try to “secure” the Qana gas field, which line 23 of the maritime border crosses, and “negotiate” on line 29, which puts an extra 1,430 square kilometers within Lebanon’s maritime border. However, Aoun has so far not signed a decree that would amend Decree No. 6433 of 2011, affirming Beirut’s claim to territory up to line 29 of the maritime borders rather than line 23.