Lebanon’s Plans for Gas Boom Falter
Lebanon’s dysfunctional government desperately wants to start awarding contracts for natural gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean and start a process that could rescue a steadily declining economy.
But Lebanon is crippled by centuries-old sectarian rivalries that could derail the process of extracting the estimated 25 trillion cubic feet of gas that lies beneath Lebanese waters while neighboring Israel and Cyprus press ahead with developing gas booms that will transform their economies.
The pre-qualification process for international companies seeking exploration licenses was to begin Feb.1 after many months of delays because of political infighting between the leading sects for controlling interests in the enterprise.
If it did, nobody noticed it. That probably has a lot to do with the fact the Council of Ministers hasn’t issued a decree authorizing the bidding process, in which Energy Minister Gebran Bassil claims 40 international companies are ready to participate.
“When it eventually does, it will in theory initiate a bidding timetable insulated from the bickering and volatility of Lebanese politics and should see contracts being awarded in March next year,” the Financial Times reported.
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