Potentially extensive petroleum reserves in the Lebanese offshore have many people contemplating how extracting the lucrative resource could benefit the country. But when exploration begins in earnest and as the prospect of extraction remains on the horizon, it must be recognized that the establishment of a petroleum sector would bring with it a range of environmental risks that Lebanon needs to be prepared for.
Due to the remote and harsh environment in which it takes place,
Offshore exploration can damage habitats which marine life depend on, such as during the drilling of exploratory wells, or even cause behavioral changes in certain animals when using air guns during seismic surveys. During the production stage, the presence of offshore platforms can affect migratory birds’ travelling patterns and emissions can negatively affect air quality. Disposal of produced water can deteriorate seawater quality or cause induced seismicity when injected in deep formations. In a worst-case scenario, gas wells can experience a blowout or there could be a petroleum spill or chemical spill, all of which could have sustained and long-lasting negative effects on not only the marine environment, but also on tourism and fisheries. Petroleum activities would also significantly increase Lebanon’s carbon footprint and emissions of greenhouse gases during a period when global efforts are being made to curb climate change.