Lebanon Begins Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration After Landmark Border Agreement

Lebanon marked a significant milestone as it embarked on its long-awaited offshore oil and gas exploration, a promising development 10 months after a groundbreaking maritime border agreement was mediated by the United States, delineating its boundary with Israel.

The exploration is being led by the French energy giant TotalEnergies, in collaboration with the Italian company ENI and the state-owned QatarEnergy, forming a consortium set to drill in Block 9, an offshore area with potential hydrocarbon reserves.

For Lebanon, this endeavor holds the promise of much-needed foreign currency in a nation grappling with an unprecedented financial crisis. The Lebanese currency has experienced a staggering devaluation of over 98 percent, plunging approximately 80 percent of the population into poverty.

The decision to commence drilling was reinforced by a visit to the drilling rig, which had been positioned approximately 120 kilometers off the Lebanese coastline on August 16. During this visit, key figures including Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, and caretaker Minister of Public Works Ali Hamieh were transported to the rig via a helicopter provided by TotalEnergies.

TotalEnergies’ general manager in Lebanon, Romain de La Martiniere, highlighted the significance of this exploration well, emphasizing that it will provide insights into the presence of hydrocarbon resources and the potential for production in the area.

Prime Minister Mikati expressed optimism about the start of drilling, regarding it as a beacon of hope for Lebanon to overcome its current crises by accessing additional resources. He called upon all stakeholders to prioritize the national interest and collaborate on this project, recognizing its vital role in advancing the nation’s economy.

The maritime border agreement between Lebanon and Israel, two nations still technically at war, follows a decade of diplomatic efforts, led by the United States, to resolve a longstanding dispute concerning the potentially abundant oil and gas reserves claimed by both countries. This agreement sets the stage for Lebanon’s exploration into a valuable natural resource, holding the potential to alleviate its economic challenges and contribute to its recovery.

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