Qatar to join Lebanon gas consortium, says Lebanese energy minister
QatarEnergy will join a tripartite consortium to explore waters off Lebanon's coast for possible offshore oil and gas reserves, Beirut's energy ministry announced on Thursday.
The consortium includes French TotalEnergies and Italian Eni, which will search for gas in two of maritime blocks 4 and 9 in Lebanese waters.
The energy ministry said the agreements will be signed on Sunday.
"This will be a major positive development," Lebanon's Energy Minister Walid Fayyad told Reuters, adding that it could bring forward the launch of exploration activities from November.
Following months of talks, QatarEnergy is set to take a 30 percent stake, leaving France's TotalEnergies and Italy's Eni with 35 percent each.
The Qatari company is replacing Russia’s Novatek which pulled out of the consortium last year likely due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and the sanctions that followed it.
A new challenge: Lebanon's maritime border dispute with Syria— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) November 7, 2022
✍ @DarioSabaghi https://t.co/SY4DWKMXWE
Lebanon extended the deadline for applications to explore for possible hydrocarbons in the remaining eight offshore blocks until June this year.
It is looking to begin exploring and potentially drilling for gas and oil after reaching a historic maritime border deal with enemy state Israel in October.
The negotiations had been mediated by the US for over a decade.
Lebanon hopes this will help to lift the country out of its worst-ever financial crisis, which since 2019 has seen the local currency lose over 95 percent of its value, has plunged millions into poverty, and has triggered a mass migration of youth and families.
Offshore areas in the Eastern Mediterranean have yielded major gas discoveries in the past decade. Interest in them has grown since Russia's invasion of Ukraine disrupted global gas supplies.
Reuters contributed to this report.