TotalEnergies, along with its partners Eni and QatarEnergy, has launched exploration activities in Block 9 within Lebanon’s territorial waters. This move is seen as a potential solution to revive Lebanon’s collapsing economy. The drilling is set to start on August 24, and the Lebanese government is hopeful that it will lead to the discovery of commercial quantities of gas and oil.
The exploration activities in Block 9 are of great significance for Lebanon. The country has been grappling with a severe economic crisis, marked by hyperinflation, a plummeting currency, and widespread poverty. The government sees the potential oil and gas reserves as a lifeline that could help alleviate the financial strain and provide much-needed revenue for the country.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri recently visited the drilling platform Transocean Barents to announce the exploration activities. They were accompanied by Energy Minister Walid Fayad, Minister of Public Works and Transport Ali Hamieh, and other Lebanese petroleum officials. The visit aimed to oversee the logistics for the oil and gas exploration and demonstrate the government’s commitment to this endeavor.
During the visit, Lebanese officials were briefed on the preparations for the drilling. Romain de La Martiniere, the general manager of TotalEnergies in Lebanon, highlighted the importance of the exploratory well in assessing hydrocarbon resources and production potential in the area. TotalEnergies holds a 35 percent working interest in Block 9, while Eni and QatarEnergy hold 35 percent and 30 percent respectively.
However, not everyone is optimistic about the potential benefits of oil and gas exploration in Lebanon. Reformists argue that the country’s political class has mismanaged its resources and should be held accountable before any potential oil wealth is used to offset the deficit faced by the treasury. Ibrahim Mneimneh, a reformist MP, emphasized that the issue lies in the embezzlement of the nation’s resources and called for consequences for those responsible.
Mneimneh also raised concerns about the uncertainty surrounding the exploration process and whether it will yield commercial quantities of oil and gas or merely fulfill the country’s immediate needs. He cautioned against hasty decisions and urged the government to prioritize addressing the financial gap, restructuring banks, and enacting necessary reforms before focusing on the sovereign wealth fund.
The economic crisis in Lebanon has had far-reaching consequences, even affecting state institutions. Army Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun recently issued a warning stating that the military institution is grappling with fuel shortages. The army only has a one-month supply of gasoline, which could severely impact its ability to conduct patrols beyond that period. This shortage is a stark contrast to the past, where fuel reserves for the institution used to last for an entire year.
The launch of exploration activities in Block 9 brings both hope and skepticism for Lebanon. While the potential discovery of commercial quantities of oil and gas could provide a much-needed boost to the economy, there are concerns about the mismanagement of resources and the uncertain nature of the exploration process. It remains to be seen whether Lebanon will be able to leverage its natural resources effectively to overcome its economic challenges.
In conclusion, TotalEnergies, Eni, and QatarEnergy have commenced exploration activities in Block 9 within Lebanon’s territorial waters. The drilling is set to start on August 24, and the Lebanese government is hopeful that it will lead to the discovery of commercial quantities of oil and gas. However, there are concerns about the mismanagement of resources and the uncertain nature of the exploration process. The potential benefits of oil and gas exploration in Lebanon could provide a much-needed boost to the economy, but it remains to be seen how effectively the country will leverage its natural resources to overcome its economic challenges.