Qatar given green light for offshore drilling in Lebanon gas field
A Qatari company looking to be involved in offshore drilling in one of Lebanon's southern gas fields has been given the green light by Israel, as per a deal signed last month between the Lebanese and Israeli governments.
The landmark maritime border deal – mediated by the US for years and praised as historic between the enemy states – gives Israel veto power over any company's involvement in extracting gas from Block 9 of the Eastern Mediterranean, most of which is in Lebanese waters.
That block, otherwise known as the Qana field in Lebanon, was the main point of dispute with Israel. Lebanon has divided its exclusive economic zone at sea into ten "blocks".
"In the framework of the agreement… to ensure Israel's rights in the Sidon Reservoir [Block 9], an option was also authorised for the Qatari company Energy Consortium to join," Israel’s energy minister confirmed on Tuesday.
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Qatar's Energy Consortium is expected to be involved in up to 30 percent of Block 9. It is looking to replace Russian company Novatek which was originally supposed to work with France’s TotalEnergies and Italy’s Eni in developing Block 9.
TotalEnergies and Eni signed a framework agreement with Israel over the Qana field last week. TotalEnergies holds a 60 percent stake in Block 9, while ENI holds 40 percent.
With demand for gas rising worldwide because of the energy crisis sparked by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Lebanon hopes exploiting its offshore fields will help ease its unprecedented financial and economic crisis, while Israel looks to European markets to substitute for Russian gas.
Oil experts say it will take anywhere between five and eight years until profits are seen from the Qana field.