A TotalEnergies’ headquarters in France (Photo Credit: Via Energy Connects)
Informed sources have confirmed to Lebanon-based news agency Al-Markaziya that French oil company TotalEnergies is expected to start extraction from Lebanon’s gas fields in the spring of 2023.
The company has reportedly begun preparations for the necessary paperwork to contract a specialized extraction ship before transporting it to Block 9, facing south Lebanon.
The ship will be similar to the one operating in Israel’s Karish gas field, and will be responsible for pumping gas from the undersea wells toward land-based reservoirs using underwater pipelines.
Oil expert Rabih Yaghi told Al-Markaziya that infrastructure should be prepared in Lebanon prior to the arrival of the ship, stressing that these platforms are rented by the hour or day, making any possible delays very costly.
However, Yaghi estimates that the first drilling ship should arrive by the end of this winter and start operating in the Qana gas field. The vessel has to be operational for at least three months before the arrival of the extraction platform.
Lebanese Parliament Speaker, Nabih Berri, who led the maritime negotiations with the US and Israel for 10 years, was confident that Lebanon will start extraction in 2023.
Berri was quoted by local media reiterating his famous statement from 2016 about the wealth at sea, saying that “the discovery will not only lead to Lebanon’s entry to the club of [gas]-producing countries, but even place it in the front row seats.”
In 2017, TotalEnergies signed two Exploration and Production Agreements (EPAs) with the Lebanese government, assigning them to Blocks 4 and 9.
The Tungsten Explorer drillship commenced operations in Block 4 as soon as it arrived in Lebanon on 25 February 2020. However, the lack of concrete proof of gas reserves halted the exploration efforts.
No operations took place in Block 9, as the French company was weary of the repercussions as long as the area was disputed with Israel.
However, after signing the maritime agreement with Israel on 27 October, the company’s representatives reengaged with Lebanese officials, to fulfill the obligations of the 2017 EPAs.
According to Lebanon’s Energy Minister, Walid Fayyad, Qatar also showed an interest in joining the consortium, led by major petroleum firms ENI and TotalEnergies.