Oil Exploration Decrees to be Reportedly Issued within Two Weeks

Executive decrees for offshore oil and gas exploration will be issued within two weeks, the Kuwaiti al-Anbaa newspaper reported on Sunday.

“An agreement has been reached on issuing the oil law’s executive decrees within two weeks so that a call for tenders can be organized,” the daily said.

“In addition to these decrees, the parliament must issue a law specifying the taxes that will be slapped on the bidding oil firms or else no global company would submit a tender, which would raise the problem of holding a legislative session for parliament, although Speaker Nabih Berri has reassured about the possibility of holding such a session,” al-Anbaa added.

“The ball is now in the court of Prime Minister Tammam Salam, who must convene the relevant ministerial committee and later put the issue on the cabinet’s agenda in order to pass the needed decrees,” the newspaper said.

The report comes after Free Patriotic Movement and the AMAL Movement officials met in Ain al-Tineh and announced that they have settled their disputes over the excavation of Lebanon’s offshore oil and gas reserves.

The disagreement between the two parties has hindered agreements on energy extraction for years.

Lebanon and Israel are bickering over a zone that consists of about 854 square kilometers and suspected energy reserves that could generate billions of dollars.

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.

In March 2010, the US Geological Survey estimated a mean of 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil and a mean of 34.5 trillion cubic meters of recoverable gas in the Levant Basin in the eastern Mediterranean, which includes the territorial waters of Lebanon, Israel, Syria and Cyprus.

In August 2014, the government postponed for the fifth time the first round of licensing for gas exploration over a political dispute.

The disagreements were over the designation of blocks open for bidding and the terms of a draft exploration agreement.

Lebanese officials have continuously warned that Israel’s exploration of new offshore gas fields near Lebanese territorial waters means Israel is siphoning some of Lebanon’s crude oil.

Lebanon argues that a maritime map it submitted to the UN is in line with an armistice accord drawn up in 1949, an agreement which is not contested by Israel.