Lebanon delays bids on offshore energy rights for third time
BY NAYLA RAZZOUK
BEIRUT (Bloomberg) -- Lebanon postponed its first auction of licenses for offshore oil and natural-gas exploration until April 10, Energy Minister Gebran Bassil said, stalling bids for a third time amid political differences in the Arab state.
“This is the last time bidding will be delayed,” Bassil said at a news conference in Beirut. The auction will occur on the new date in April even if voting on the necessary decrees doesn’t take place by then, he said.
Political disagreements have blocked the formation of a new cabinet since Prime Minister Najib Mikati resigned in March. The auction was first scheduled for November 4 then delayed to December 10 and again to January 10.
Officials have yet to vote on decrees that would demarcate blocks, establish production-sharing contracts or specify tender protocols.
Exxon Mobil and Total are among the companies prequalified to bid. Lebanon, which must import most of its oil and gas, needs revenue to pare its public debt, the highest as a share of economic output among 22 Arab nations, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Seismic surveys and data analysis of about 45% of Lebanon’s territorial waters show a 50% probability that the country has 96 Tcf of gas and 850 MMbbls of oil, Bassil said December 5. The United States Geological Survey estimates the Eastern Mediterranean’s Levant basin, of which Israel covers 45%, holds about 122 Tcf of recoverable gas and 1.7 Bbbls of oil.
Companies that prequalified to bid as operators are Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, Eni, Anadarko Petroleum, Petroleo Brasileiro, Statoil, A.P. Moeller-Maersk, Repsol, Inpex and Petroliam Nasional, according to the energy ministry’s website.
Among the 34 companies that prequalified as non-operators were Genel Energy, Suncor Energy, Marathon Oil, Santos, OMV, GDF Suez, MOL Hungarian Oil and Gas, Cairn Energy, Dana Petroleum and Japex, the ministry said.