Lebanon President Aoun: Oil, Gas Drilling to Begin in 48 Hrs
By Staff, Agencies
Lebanon's first exploratory drilling expedition for oil and gas in its territorial waters will begin within 48 hours, President Michel Aoun said during a Cabinet session at Baabda Palace Tuesday.
"We hope that it will bring positive results," Aoun said, according to Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad.
The vessel that will conduct the drilling, the Bahamas-flagged Tungsten Explorer, anchored in maritime Block 4, off the coast of Beirut, Tuesday morning.
A consortium comprising the energy companies Total, Eni and Novatek was awarded contracts to drill in Block 4 and Block 9 by the Energy Ministry in 2018.
"Total is pleased to start exploration operations in Block 4, which is the first deep-water exploration well in Lebanon," AFP reported Total's Lebanon director Ricardo Darre as saying.
The ship will drill within 21 kilometers off the Lebanese coast for around two months, according to an Energy Ministry statement released Monday.
“Three ships anchored in the port of Beirut will provide logistics services to the drill ship, while helicopters will transport ship workers to the vessel from Rafik Hariri International Airport,” the statement added.
Drilling in Block 4 was supposed to begin in December.
In August, the former energy minister Nada Boustani awarded US-based Vantage Drilling a contract to supply the drill ship, but the vessel's arrival date was pushed back several times.
Once the drilling is over, the consortium will conduct an analysis of the findings, which will take up to six months. Three outcomes are possible: no oil or gas being found, the discovery of relatively small deposits, or a commercially exploitable quantity.
Drilling in Block 9, set to begin in December 2020, is more controversial, owing to a maritime border dispute with Israel. Parts of the block run through what Israel claims is its Exclusive Economic Zone.