Lebanon is set to finish accepting pre-qualification applications from companies that want to
bid on licenses to explore for offshore natural gas and oil on Thursday, effectively launching an oil and gas sector in the country. Given that Lebanon is perceived to be rampantly corrupt, it remains to be seen just how transparent this new sector will be.
A press aide to caretaker Energy Minister Gebran Bassil said no one could answer four
questions from NOW before Thursday, and Bassil has banned the newly appointed Petroleum
Administration – responsible for overseeing the sector – from speaking to the press. Further, a
strategic environmental assessment looking at how the sector might impact Lebanon and its
waters conducted last year by a British company is currently not a public document, the
Minister of Environment told NOW.
That said, Bassil has repeatedly told other media outlets that the entire sector will indeed be
transparent.Sami Atallah, head of the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies, is spearheading a two-year project to study and push for transparency and best practices in the oil and gas sector in order avoid the so-called “Oil Curse.” He told NOW that initial contacts with the Petroleum Administration (PA) have been positive.....continue reading