BEIRUT — Caretaker Energy Minister Walid Fayad said Wednesday that he will monitor the execution of the maritime border agreement between Lebanon and Israel with TotalEnergies after the two countries reached a deal following months of negotiations.
"The historic achievement is not just the delineation of the border. What is important is to commit to drilling because we need it," Fayad told the press in Baabda following a meeting with President Michel Aoun.
"We will follow the implementation of the agreement during the next stage in cooperation with TotalEnergies and international partners interested in the gas sector."
After intense indirect negotiations mediated by the United States, Israel announced Tuesday that it had reached a "historic" agreement with Lebanon to delineate their maritime border, thus removing key obstacles to the development of gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean. Lebanon, for its part, expressed hope that the agreement will be "announced as soon as possible."
The agreement gives Israel control over the Karish field and Lebanon control over the Qana field reserves, located further northeast. However, because the Qana field is intersected by the future demarcation line, Israel will receive a share of future revenues from the Qana gas development.
An agreement has also been reached between the French giant TotalEnergies — which will explore the Qana field — and the Israelis, whereby the latter could "receive compensation" from the French company and not from Lebanon, according to Lebanese Deputy Parliament Speaker Elias Bou Saab.
During the press conference, Fayad also addressed new tariffs for Electricite du Liban (EDL), which he said caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati gave instructions to adopt "starting in November."
According to information confirmed by EDL, these new tariffs will vary between 10 and 27 cents per kWh. The dollar price per kWh for a subscriber in the lowest consumption bracket will increase fivefold, while that of the highest bracket will only double. The differentials are much more significant in Lebanese pounds, given the magnitude of the difference between the official dollar-lira exchange rate and the parallel market rate.
Speaking on the delivery of Iranian fuel to Lebanon, Fayad said the fuel is a "gift" and that "no sanctions should be imposed."
"We have obtained assurances to move forward at this level and are in the phase of drafting an agreement," he added, noting that "Tehran is working on the details.
Iran plans to donate 600,000 tons of fuel oil over 5 months. A ministerial source told L'Orient-Le Jour this fuel could be used to barter with third-party companies. The Iranian fuel could be given to a third company in exchange for fuel oil compatible with EDL's plants.