France’s TotalEnergies to start drilling in Lebanon next year

The Middle East country and Israel finalised a US-brokered maritime deal in October

A ship run by London-based Energean conducts drilling operations at an offshore gasfield in the east Mediterranean. Reuters
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TotalEnergies is working towards developing its new Lebanon Block 9 offshore gas project from next year.

The French energy company would probably select a rig in the first quarter of 2023 to drill oil and gas wells.

“Pre-orders have also been placed with suppliers for equipment required,” said TotalEnergies said on Monday.

Last month, the company and its Italian partner Eni signed a “framework agreement” with Israel to enforce a maritime boundary accord that agreed on with Lebanon last month.

Lebanon and Israel, who have no diplomatic ties, finalised a US-brokered maritime demarcation deal on October 27.

In Lebanon, TotalEnergies is the operator of exploration Block 9 and holds a 60 per cent interest, alongside its partner Eni's 40 per cent.

The development of its energy sector is considered as crucial for the country, which is enduring its worst economic crisis in decades.

Lebanon's economy is saddled with debt that ballooned to more than $100 billion, or about 212 per cent of gross domestic product, in 2021.

TotalEnergies’ chief executive Patrick Pouyanne confirmed that the teams in charge of the drilling operations had been mobilised.

“By the end of March, the team mobilised in Beirut will reach more than 20 employees,” said the company.

The French energy company's teams are working in collaboration with the Lebanese Petroleum Association and Eni to complete drilling “as soon as possible” in 2023, TotalEnergies said.

The eastern Mediterranean region has become a global energy hotspot following the discovery of numerous offshore gasfields over the past decade.

The US Geological Survey estimates that the Levant Basin — the waters of Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, and Palestine — contains 122.4 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable gas.

Natural gas markets are expected to remain tight in 2023 as Russia, one of the world’s largest exporters, further reduces supplies to Europe.

Russia, Europe’s top natural gas supplier, began reducing its exports to the continent in response to wide-ranging economic sanctions.

European natural gas prices and Asian spot liquefied natural gas prices hit record highs in the third quarter of 2022.

The continent’s gas consumption declined by more than 10 per cent in the first eight months of this year, compared with the same period in 2021, driven by a 15 per cent drop in the industrial sector as factories curtailed production, the agency said.

Updated: December 12, 2022, 9:40 AM