Feb 21

Lebanon is expected to start drilling offshore for oil and gas on February 27, Culture and Agriculture Minister Abbas Mortada told VDL (93.3) radio station on Friday.

During its meeting yesterday, “not only did the Cabinet approve the Kuwaiti housing loan bill, but it also discussed and gave the green light for drilling for oil at sea in bloc 4 starting Thursday,” said Mortada.

The minister pointed to a technical problem that could have delayed the decision to launch drilling.

“To start work, we realized that a license from the environment ministry is required to define environmental standards to prevent pollution, which takes between one month to 90 days to finalize,” said the Minister.

“But, the drilling ship is ready and can not be delayed because if it leaves Lebanon’s waters it may not return before a year. So in order not to waste time, the Cabinet took the responsibility and gave permission to start drilling on Thursday,” added Mortada.

But he pointed out that “efforts are underway to prepare the license as soon as possible.”

Last year, Lebanon signed its first contract to drill for oil and gas in its waters.

A consortium comprising energy giants Total, ENI and Novatek took the first two of its 10 blocks, including one disputed by neighbouring Israel with which Lebanon has fought several wars.