TotalEnergies, QatarEnergy, and Eni are set to begin exploring for oil and gas in Lebanon’s offshore Blocks 4 and 9.
The 3 companies have formed a consortium, with TotalEnergies and Eni holding 35% each, and QatarEnergy holding 30%. The agreement was signed at the Grand Serail in Lebanon.
The CEO of TotalEnergies, Patrick Pouyanne, announced that assessments will begin in early February and well-drilling will launch in the third quarter of 2023.
The company is eager to begin work on the offshore Block 9 “as soon as possible”.
Minister of Energy Walid Fayyad said the signing of the two exploration and production agreements with Qatar is “a continuation of confidence in Lebanon despite all adversities.”
He went on to say “We look forward to a long-term partnership that will entail helping Lebanon achieve its strategic goals, economic development, and investments in renewable energy, meeting Lebanon’s needs and diversifying energy sources.”
The Qatari Minister of Energy said, “we are here to support a better future for Lebanon and its people.”
This comes as Lebanon faces a crippling economic crisis, with the local currency losing more than 97% of its value and rolling blackouts across towns and cities.
The exploration for oil and gas in the maritime blocks off the coast of Lebanon offers a “big opportunity” for the country, according to the CEO of Eni, Claudio Descalzi. He stated that from a geological point of view, he is positive about a discovery in Lebanon’s Block 9.
TotalEnergies, Eni, and Russia’s Novatek had previously won bids to explore these blocks in Lebanon’s first licensing round in 2017. However, Novatek pulled out in September 2022, leaving its stake in the hands of the Lebanese government.
In October, Lebanon and Israel agreed to a landmark agreement, brokered by the United States, to delineate their long-disputed maritime border.
Block 9 lies adjacent to the newly delineated border with Israel, and according to the agreement, if discoveries are made in a field that extends south of that border, they would also be exploited by the consortium on behalf of Lebanon, but with a royalties system set up for Israel.
Total and Israel have also agreed to a separate deal for any revenues generated from there.