Arab News, Monday, Jan 30, 2023 | Rajab 8, 1444
Qatar replaces Russian company in Lebanon’s gas exploration
Qatar: Lebanon announced on
Sunday that Qatar has entered a consortium to explore for offshore gas in the
Mediterranean Sea off the Lebanese coast.
The country is also counting on the participation
of some other Gulf states in the consortium, a political observer said.
Lebanon is hoping the exploration and discovery of
commercial quantities of oil and gas will help it overcome its current economic
The deal will see QatarEnergy receive a minority
30 percent stake in the two blocks of Lebanon’s exclusive economic zone.
QatarEnergy joins the consortium of TotalEnergies
of France and Italy’s Eni company for oil and gas exploration in the two
Lebanese blocks following the withdrawal of Russia from the agreement.
Lebanon’s share would range from 54 to 63 percent
after the deduction of operational and capital costs, in any instance of oil and
Russian company Novatek withdrew from the
exploration consortium in the wake of tensions resulting from the Ukraine
It announced its withdrawal last summer due to US
sanctions as the company was no longer able to make any financial transfers
The new agreement was signed by Walid Fayad,
Lebanon’s energy minister; Saad bin Sherida Al-Kaabi, Qatar’s energy minister
and president and CEO of QatarEnergy; Patrick Pouyanne, CEO of TotalEnergies;
and Claudio Descalzi, CEO of Eni.
The ceremony was held at the headquarters of the
Lebanese prime minister and in the presence of the ambassadors of Qatar, France
The agreement was the result of months-long talks
and coincided with practical procedures initiated by the operator to carry out
exploration and drilling activities during this year.
Najib Mikati, Lebanese caretaker prime minister,
paid tribute to US mediator Amos Hochstein and his team for their handling of
the indirect negotiation process between Lebanon and Israel to demarcate the
maritime borders at the end of last year, which resulted in an agreement.
Fayad said he hoped the deal would initiate “the
beginning of a new phase that would contribute to placing Lebanon on the
petroleum map in the region, and boosting its role as an investment
He added that the deal demonstrates that
“[countries] still trust Lebanon, despite all the crises it is going through.”
Al-Kaabi said: “It’s not the first exploration
attempt in Lebanon, but it is a serious attempt for a promising exploration in
the eastern Mediterranean basin.”
He added: “We are actually present in this region
and not far from here, as we have discovered gas in the Glaucus well offshore
"There are many elements that make this agreement
important for both Lebanon and QatarEnergy. One of these elements is that it
came after the maritime border demarcation agreement, which paved the way for us
to begin this ambitious effort.”
The Qatari minister sent the greetings of Sheikh
Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, who gave his hopes for a better future for Lebanon and
Pouyanne said that “the maritime border
demarcation resulted in a new momentum to explore the country’s hydrocarbon
He added: “We are determined, along with our
partners, to drill an exploration well in Block 9 as soon as possible in 2023,
and our teams are being fully equipped to carry out these operations.”
Pouyanne pointed out that the new deal between
TotalEnergies and QatarEnergy expanded the scope of international cooperation in
the exploration field, and raised the number of countries in which the two
companies operate to nine.
Descalzi said: “This deal comes at a crucial time,
as energy constitutes the basis of relations between the countries, and the
Russian gas supply to Europe has been halted.
“I am very optimistic, especially since we are
working with the best teams in this field and with the best international
companies, QatarEnergy and TotalEnergies.
“We hope we will be able to achieve the desired
commercial explorations for the benefit of the Lebanese people.”