Could Lebanon be the Middle East's new energy capital?
International oil companies are competing over exploiting Lebanon's large energy reserves detected off its coast as analysts say it could redraw the energy landscape of the region. “The value of the gas and crude oil reserves in Lebanon is worth $140 billion.
Our company has found in Lebanon a quantity of oil that could make the country one of the biggest gas producers in the Middle East,” British newspaper. The Times quoted chief executive officer of the British Spectrum Geo Inc. David Rowlands as saying.
This “is a great jostle that has not been witnessed since Libya opened the way for gas exploration in 2004,” Rowland pointed out. Spectrum Geo had unveiled in 2012 that Lebanon's oil and gas reserves off its coast are of the richest and best in the Mediterranean.
Rowland revealed that 120 companies expressed interest in drilling for oil and gas reserves in Lebanon including U.S. Marathon Oil and Petroleum Corporation and British Royal Dutch Shell.
Lebanon's Energy and Water ministry estimates that the country will be able to produce around 90,000 barrel of oil daily by the end of the current decade.
Meanwhile, Malcolm Graham Wood, the oil and gas adviser for VSA Capital said that the gas reserves in Lebanon amount to more than 25 trillion cubic feet. “I think that the gas reserves amount to much more than 25 trillion cubic feet, and all (gas companies) are interested in this wealth,”
Wood told the UK Times. Energy Minister Jebran Bassil and British Foreign Secretary William Hague launched in February onshore Lebanon 3-D seismic scan that will be carried out by Spectrum Geo.
Lebanon opened last month the pre-qualification period for oil exploration companies interested in exploring its offshore oil and gas reserves. The deadline for submitting applications will be on March 28 and the Petroleum Authority will announce after three weeks the list of accepted companies then tenders will be launched, which will last until the end of the year. The country will witness the first oil exploration process in 2015 and it will take a year to enter the production stage.
Lebanon has been slow to exploit its maritime resources compared with other eastern Mediterranean countries. Israel, Cyprus and Turkey are all much more advanced in drilling for oil and gas.