Can Lebanon Make Progress on Oil, Gas Exploration Efforts?

Wissam Zahabi is exhausted. It’s 5 p.m. He arrived in Beirut an hour after sunrise from a fact-finding mission in Uganda and went straight to work. In the evening, he has a conference to attend. It’s a busy day for a man who described himself and his colleagues as “idle.”

His quote, however, needs to be understood in context. Zahabi is currently the president of Lebanon’s Petroleum Administration, a government body established in 2012 to regulate the country’s oil and gas sector. Back then, the pace of activity to create the sector was akin to lightning by Lebanese standards. A law passed in 2010 called for creating the LPA and naming its six board members. Two years later, the six were appointed. (By comparison, it took five years to appoint a board for the telecoms regulator and an electricity regulator called for in a 2002 law still exists only on paper.)

The board should be busy watching over oil and gas companies searching for hydrocarbons in Lebanon. It’s not.

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