After President Michel Aoun addressed the Lebanese nation on Wednesday night and announced that Lebanon would start exploring its waters for oil and gas reservoirs, the Tungsten Explorer has begun drilling the seafloor early on Thursday, February 27th.
For Lebanon, the event will represent “the cornerstone of the ascent from the abyss, and a pivotal checkpoint for our economy,” the president said.
According to President Aoun, the Lebanese economy will witness an important transformation from a “profitable rentier economy” to a productive one.
30 kilometers off the coast of Keserwan-Jbeil, in Block 4, the Bahamian Tungsten Explorer drillship has initiated its exploratory operations in search of crude oil and/or natural gas reservoirs beneath the seabed of the Mediterranian Sea.
This “historic” day, as stated by the president, “will separate between what was before it and what will come after.” It is, as he attested, the day when our country “formally entered the club of oil states.”
The French Petroleum refinement company, Total, estimated that the drilling process could take up to 2 months to finish.
Notably, the President of the Lebanese Petroleum Administration (LPA), Walid Nasr, has said that “all required environmental licenses have been secured in the necessary time,” after it was said last week that securing the licenses could take months.
“We hope that the results will be positive and that we will find oil or gas in preparation for the second stage,” Nasr added.
According to the LPA, preparations are also being made for the drilling of Block 9, which is a disputed area with Israel. Reportedly, the exploration of that strip is supposed to take place in 2020 as well.
In addition to Total, Eni and Novatek have signed contracts with Lebanon to operate in 2 regions of its territorial waters for oil and gas exploration and, if the results are positive, extraction.
While the president and many Lebanese officials celebrated the fact that Lebanon has entered “the club”, one MP has called the hype an “exaggeration.”
“What is happening today off the Lebanese coast is an exploratory drilling operation to know whether there is gas in commercial quantities or not. Lebanon is still in a ‘Fish in the Sea’ stage,” MP Faysal Al-Sayegh, of the Democratic Gathering Parliamentary Bloc, said on Thursday.
Al-Sayegh pointed to the pending and impending problems of Lebanon, including “about $50 billion lost in depositors’ money,” the maturing Eurobonds, the inability to draw an effective rescue plan as noted by the IMF, the coronavirus, and the escalating US sanctions.
From there, he went on to say: “So, please, do not exaggerate the Lebanese way and, instead, start devising realistic solutions to our problems with the available practical capabilities.”
“Do not trade and mortgage our oil wealth. Have mercy on our children and future Lebanese generations,” the MP concluded, as Naharnet reported.