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16 August 2023

QatarEnergy, TotalEnergies, and Eni Prepare for Offshore Drilling in Lebanon's Block 9

An offshore drilling rig has arrived in Lebanon's Block 9, signaling the commencement of drilling activities in the region, according to a post by Minister of Public Works and Transport, Ali Hamie, on the social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter).

The initiation of offshore drilling in Lebanon's Block 9 by a consortium led by France's TotalEnergies comes after a significant agreement was signed last year, clearly defining the contentious maritime border between Lebanon and Israel to the south.

The consortium comprises Eni, the prominent Italian oil giant, as well as the state-owned QatarEnergy.

Lebanon's Energy Minister, Walid Fayad, expressed optimism in May about potential discoveries in the area, with expectations of determining their viability by year's end. ENI's CEO, Claudio Descalzi, also expressed positivity in January regarding potential discoveries.

Lebanon's Aspirations for Oil and Gas Discoveries

Lebanon's aspirations for gas and oil discoveries carry the hope of mitigating a severe economic crisis that has led to a drastic depreciation of the local currency, eroded foreign reserves, and triggered widespread power outages across urban centers.

The commencement of drilling was made possible through the intervention of the United States, which brokered a historic agreement establishing a maritime border between Lebanese and Israeli waters for the first time.

Furthermore, a mechanism has been established to allow the consortium to exploit potential discoveries extending south from Block 9 and crossing the established border. This exploitation would be conducted on Lebanon's behalf, with an accompanying royalties system designed for Israel.

It's important to note that Lebanon does not officially recognize Israel's right to exist and still considers itself in a state of war with its neighbor, which is reflected in laws that prohibit contact with Israeli officials.