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QatarEnergy to join Lebanon offshore oil and gas exploration

Oilfield, Construction, Outdoors REUTERS/Angus Mordant
Lebanon's energy minister said the development could bring forward the launch of exploration activities from November

QatarEnergy will join TotalEnergies and Eni in a three-way consortium to explore oil and gas in two maritime blocks off the coast of Lebanon, the Lebanese energy ministry said on Thursday.

The announcement said agreements would be signed on Sunday.

“This will be a major positive development,” Lebanon’s energy minister Walid Fayad told Reuters, adding that it could bring forward the launch of exploration activities from November.

Following months of talks, QatarEnergy is set to take a 30 percent stake, leaving France’s TotalEnergies and Italy’s Eni with 35 percent each.

QatarEnergy, TotalEnergies and Eni did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Lebanon’s first licensing round in 2017 saw a consortium of TotalEnergies, Eni and Russia’s Novatek win bids to explore in the offshore 4 and 9 blocks.

Novatek pulled out in September 2022, leaving its 20 percent stake in the hands of the Lebanese government.

The following month, Lebanon and Israel agreed to a landmark agreement brokered by the US to delineate their long-disputed maritime border.

Block 9 lies mostly in Lebanese waters but a segment lies south of the newly delineated border with Israel. Total and Israel have agreed a separate deal for any revenues generated from there.

The deal stipulated that no Lebanese or Israeli corporations would operate in the zone below the new border, prompting a transfer of the TotalEnergies and government stakes to two companies described as “vehicles” of TotalEnergies and the search for a new consortium partner.

Offshore areas in the eastern Mediterranean and Levant have yielded major gas discoveries in the past decade. Interest in them has grown since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine disrupted gas supplies.