Lebanon has awarded two exclusive petroleum licenses for exploration and production in blocks 4 and 9 to a consortium made up of Total S.A, Eni International BV and JSC Novatek in its first offshore licensing round.
The country’s Council of Ministers approved the award on Dec 14 of the two out of 10 blocks, according to a statement on Lebanon Petroleum Administration (LPA) website.
The exploration phase will start after Exploration and Production Agreements (EPAs) have been signed –expected in early 2019 and will last up to five years with a one-year extension possibility.
Lebanon's government estimates that there are potential natural gas reserves of 25 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) or more, located in its offshore territory, but until more exploration occurs, that figure remains speculative.
The country, which relies heavily on energy imports to meet domestic demand which comes at a high cost, hopes a commercially viable discovery could help ease the pressure on government finances.
The country's energy ministry has delayed the bid round for the 10 offshore blocks several times, in part due to issues surrounding the demarcation of the southern boundary of Lebanese territorial waters.
The majority of its imports arrive through its Mediterranean ports.