Lebanon needs three to four months to determine whether there are commercially viable quantities of gas in offshore Block 4, a source close to the Lebanese Petroleum Administration said Thursday.
“It will take 40 to 50 days to complete hydrocarbon drilling on one prospect of Block 4. This is the entire size of block, which [covers an area] of 1,800 kilometers. The size of the potential area the Tungsten Explorer vessel is working on ranges between 50 kilometers to 60 kilometers only. Once the exploration is completed on this zone the data will be sent for assessment to determine whether there are commercial quantities of gas and this will take another two to three months,” the source told The Daily Star.
The Tungsten Explorer drilling vessel Thursday conducted its first exploratory drilling for hydrocarbons in offshore Block 4.
In January 2018 two Exploration and Production Agreements (EPAs) for blocks 4 and 9 were signed between Lebanon and the consortium composed of the French company Total E&P Liban s.a.l. (Right Holder Operator), Italian firm Eni Lebanon B.V. and Russian company Novatek Lebanon (Right Holders Non-Operators).
Lebanon is pinning high hopes on discovering substantial quantities of gas in the 10 offshore blocks to restore confidence in the country, which currently reeling under severe economic recession and high public debt.
“When we reach the total depth of the reservoir we would have gone through all the geological layers. Once we complete the tests and take the data from inside the well we will be able to find out whether we have hydrocarbon,” the source explained.
The operating company will seal the well once the exploration is completed in order to evaluate the physical findings and economic value.
If Total and the rest of the companies confirm that the findings are commercially viable, Lebanon will ask the firms to complete gas exploration on the rest of Block 4.
Should the exploration lead to positive results, the oil companies will start development or production.
But Lebanon needs five to seven years to develop the offshore gas wells and to draw a strategy for export to other countries.
The source said Lebanon would start gas exploration on Block 9 in December 2020 or January 2021.
“Today is a happy day for us and for all Lebanese, and we hope the dream we’ve all imagined is realized,” President Michael Aoun said via a statement released by his media office.
Aoun thanked the three companies leading the operation for their work – Total, Eni and Novatek.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab and Energy Minister Raymond Ghajar were also with the president, the state-run National News Agency reported.
“From darkness we open today a great skylight that expands the circle of hope that Lebanon can go beyond the acute economic crisis that is tightening the noose on the financial and social reality of the Lebanese,” Diab said in a statement released by Aoun’s media office.