Qatar joins effort to explore Lebanon's offshore gas
Qatar is joining the multinational effort to explore the Lebanese maritime area for natural gas.
Qatar announced on Sunday that it was entering a consortium to explore gas off Lebanon's shores after the country managed to reach an agreement with the Israeli occupation through meditation from the United States, allowing it to start exploring offshore gas.
The deal between the two parties ushered in Lebanon's exploration of its southern Qana reservoir after having been criticized by the Israeli occupation as being the "biggest ever strategic mistake" committed by then Prime Minister Yair Lapid.
Qatar joining the consortium will see the state-run QatarEnergy receive a 30% stake in two blocks of Lebanon's exclusive economic zone, Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said.
France's TotalEnergies and Italy's Eni will retain 35 shares in the blocks after Russia's Novatek relinquished its minority stake in 2022.
Patrick Pouyanné, Chairman and CEO of TotalEnergies, received the Lebanese Minister of Energy Walid Fayad at the company's headquarters in December of last year.
The company indicated that during their meeting, Pouyanné and Fayad "discussed the development of TotalEnergies' activities in Lebanon," adding that Pouyanné confirmed that the teams in charge of drilling operations on Block number 9 were mobilized.
Lebanese Energy Minister Walid Fayad and his Qatari counterpart and QatarEnergy CEO, Saad Al-Kaabi, signed the deal on Sunday, along with the Eni and TotalEnergies CEOs.
Total affirmed that all its teams are working in collaboration with the Lebanese Petroleum Administration (LPA) "to prepare the well in order to achieve the objective of TotalEnergies and its partner ENI to complete the drilling as soon as possible in 2023."
It is noteworthy that TotalEnergies reached a deal with the Lebanese government on the gas field. The initial exploration license for Block number 9 was held by a consortium of TotalEnergies, Italy's Eni, and Russia's Novatek, though the latter exited the group as a result of the war in Ukraine.
According to energy consultant Naji Abi Aad, "Qatar's entry into the consortium is above all politically significant."
Doha's involvement, according to comments he made to AFP, "brings a political guarantee" as Lebanon grapples with deep economic, political, and social crises.
Lebanon is currently grappling with various crises, and though they have been argued to have started in 2019, they really began thirty years back in time when the central bank of Lebanon first implemented neoliberal openness.
It did so as it emerged beleaguered from the war and under the guidance of the ideological apparatuses of US capital, which include inter-alia the IMF and the World Bank and the litany of liberal NGOs.
Due to this, the currency has lost more than 30 times its value against the dollar, and about 70% of the population is reported to live in income poverty, on less than $14 per day.