A total of 52 companies are pre-qualified to bid in Lebanon’s first offshore oil and gas licensing round, which closes on October 12, 2017. While the government ran transparent pre-qualification processes to screen these companies in 2013 and 2017, important questions need to be asked as we proceed into partnering with some of these companies that will be awarded licenses to explore in Lebanon’s offshore EEZ.
It is no secret that the oil and gas companies indeed dwell and frequently work and thrive in murky waters. The fact remains, however, that we will always need to work with these oil and gas companies if we are to develop our nascent extractive sector.. Building safeguards within our regulatory system is a must if we are to benefit from this partnership with these companies.
Lebanese decision makers and citizens need to learn more about these companies’ behaviors and overall performances when it comes to corruption and the environment.
Using 6 criteria for evaluation, the Lebanese Oil & Gas Initiative (LOGI), in collaboration with Matt Nash, a well established researcher and journalist, set out to study the background of these companies that have been pre-qualified. These criteria relate to companies’ corruption as well as environmental track record and policies.
Based on the research findings, LOGI developed sets of recommendations that aim at safeguarding against any abuse that may be practiced by these companies. For example, LOGI recommends that the Lebanese government revisits and modifies some of the aspects related to its future licensing rounds especially ones that relate to companies publishing their anti-corruption policies. LOGI also recommends that the Lebanese government discloses the list of companies that did not qualify and the reasons behind that, in addition to addressing the issue of New Age company pre-qualification.
Finally, we would like to mention that we have also included recommendations on pertinent issues such as beneficial ownership, contract disclosure, EITI implementation that the Lebanese government is currently putting into practice.