ONGOING ACTIVITIES in LEBANON & EASTMED BALANCES
With an appetizing possible hydrocarbon potential, Lebanon seems to become one of the most important actors in the energy dynamics of EastMed. However, demographic conflicts, foreign political interventions, unrests and unstable environment in the country resulted in long delays in all proposed acts in the oil and gas exploration activities.
In the first offshore licencing round, 1st, 4th, 8th, 9th and 10th blocks were offered by the government in attention of the due the dealing investors. Although 52 companies were prequalified to participate in the licencing round, at the end only TOTAL – ENI – NOVATEK consortium could acquire the 4th and the 9th blocks as can be shown on the map below. No other bids could be concluded.
After the closure of the first licencing round in October 2017, TOTAL (as being the operator of the winner consortium) has completed all the seismic interpretations and pre-drilling studies in the 4th block and now the Vantage Energy Services’ Drill Ship (Tungsten Explorer) is on the location to drill the first offshore exploration well of Lebanon: Byblos 1.
Byblos 1 will be a wildcat well with a water depth of around 1510 meters. It is located in such a position of around 25 km NW of Beirut. According to TOTAL’s reports, targeted Lower Miocene reservoir is expected to be around 1450 m. – 1760 m.
Drilling of the first offshore well of Lebanon has just started and is planned to be completed & tested in 2 or 3 months. This 3 months period is very critical, hence an important discovery will change all the balances in the region.
In addition to the ongoing activities in the 4th block, again as being the operator of the consortium, TOTAL is planning to drill a new well in block 9 up to the end of this year.
After the first, second offshore licencing round was launched by the government in April 2019 for the 1st, 2nd, 5th, 8th and 10th blocks. With an additional extension, this round will be open up to the end of April 2020. According to level of interest and the first undeclared possible commercial results of Byblos 1, there may be a chance to have an addition extension for the due date of the round.
There are again some huge companies making preparations for new applications. We will see the clarified results after the final date of the bidding round.
In addition to these strides in the region, it has to be noted that, there is a maritime boundary conflict between the Lebanon and Israel governments in some portions of the 8th, 9th and 10th blocks. Before having a solution in this regard, there may occur some bigger problems in the development stages of possible discoveries.
By the way, always there are alternative keys for the existing conflicts in the region. And Turkey seems to be sitting in the middle of the routes for the due remedies. A possible initial step on “Turkey – Israel joint field development and export model” may be able to give a chance to change existing conflicts into common benefits and natural solutions (regarding with most of the Syria, Cyprus, Lebanon and Palestine issues).
We have to learn how to use energy as a key to solve the conflicts instead of increasing the unrests.