Abi Khalil: Oil and gas decrees endorsement paves way for first licensing round

Energy and Water Minister, Cesar Abi Khalil, announced to the Lebanese the completion of the legislative and legal arrangements of the petroleum sector in Lebanon, through the Cabinet’s approval of the two crucial oil and gas decrees, which pave the way for the first licensing round down to the exploration and production oil in Lebanese waters, thus entering into the global oil era.

Minister Abi Khalil’s fresh words on Thursday came during a press conference at the Ministry, in the presence of Lebanon Petroleum Administration, whereby he named the two fundamental decrees which were okayed by the government yesterday, notably the demarcation of blocks in marine waters, and the second related to the exploration and production model agreement, in addition to the book of conditions which include all the necessary measures to complete licensing cycle.

“We are setting up the road map with the operational steps undertaken by the Petroleum Administration and the Ministry to be submitted to the Council of Ministers as of today till the signing of the contracts,” Abi Khalil said, disclosing that the ministerial committee set up the Cabinet shall hold a meeting this evening to discuss the tax petroleum related measures, to be approved by the Cabinet prior to be forwarded to the House of Parliament.

Abi Khalil assured the Lebanese that the State is taking all the necessary actions in this dossier to enter the oil era with stern seriousness in the completion of the first licensing round, which will contribute to furthering the interest of oil companies and investors in this file.

In reply to a question about the criteria of opening offshore blocks, Bou Khalil disclosed that the number of blocks subject for auctioning are five within the first round of licensing process.

The Minister also heaped praises on the enormous contribution of Lebanon Petroleum Administration in terms of the completion of oil and gas related legislations and decrees which came into effect. Bou Khalil also said that the Administration is currently working on a sovereign fund law designed to protect the oil wealth in cooperation with all concerned ministries, in the hope that this law will be ready soon to be submitted as a project law to the Council of Ministers and then to the parliament.