A National Oil Company for Lebanon?

A Premature and Incomplete Debate

It’s been three years since the nascent oil and gas sector in Lebanon was brought to a complete halt. The relative success of the pre-qualification round in 2013 brought the sector to center stage and contributed to the hype surrounding it. But the pre-qualification round was not followed by a tendering process. Instead, this was put on hold for a variety of both rational and irrational reasons. No licenses were awarded. No exploration was conducted. Not a single discovery was made.

Yet, the oil and gas debate in the country appears to be oblivious to these realities.

Conferences abound, though on a much smaller scale than a couple of years ago, and instead of investments and grandiose ambitions, we are left with capacity building and activism. Nearly every university in the country has launched new majors to prepare the Lebanese youth for work in the country’s petroleum industry. The first batch of graduates will soon enter a market which is completely void of a petroleum industry. But, perhaps the strangest debate in town, the one attracting all the attention in the past weeks and months, is the question of:

Whether or not Lebanon should establish a national oil company (NOC) and when, for the sooner the better.
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