QatarEnergy takes 30% stake in Lebanon's offshore gas blocks

The state-run Qatari company joins France's TotalEnergies and Italy's Eni, with the European duo each holding 35% stakes in Lebanon's gas exploration blocks 4 and 9

Lebanon's Najib Mikati, centre; Qatar's Saad Sherida Al Kaabi, centre-left, Eni head Claudio Descalzi, left, Lebanese Energy Minister Walid Fayad, second right, and TotalEnergies' Patrick Pouyanne, right, in Beirut to sign an agreement. AP
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QatarEnergy has signed an agreement with France's TotalEnergies and Italy's Eni to join them in the exploration for natural gas in Lebanon's Mediterranean waters.

The consortium of TotalEnergies and Eni has already completed the transfer of a 30 per cent stake to QatarEnergy in the exploration of blocks 4 and 9 off the coast of Lebanon, the French company said in a statement on Sunday.

Under the agreement, TotalEnergies and Eni will each retain a 35 per cent interest in the blocks.

“Along with our partners, we are committed to drilling as soon as possible in 2023 an exploration well in Block 9, and our teams are mobilised to conduct these operations,” Patrick Pouyanné, chairman and chief executive of TotalEnergies, said.

The move comes after an agreement between Lebanon and Israel last year to demarcate their maritime boundaries, ending a long-running dispute between the two countries which do not have diplomatic relations.

The US-mediated deal paved the way for both countries to conduct gas exploration in the Mediterranean while easing a potential source of tension.

“The recent delineation of Lebanon’s maritime border with Israel has created a new momentum for the exploration of its hydrocarbon potential,” Mr Pouyanné said.

Lebanon hopes that demarcating maritime borders will pave the way for gas exploration that will help to lift it out of its crippling economic crisis that has wiped out 97 per cent of its currency's value, eroded its foreign reserves and plunged the country into blackouts as power shortages surged.

In 2017, Lebanon approved licences for an international consortium including TotalEnergies, Eni and Russia’s Novatek to move forward with offshore oil and gas development for two of 10 blocks in the Mediterranean. Novatek withdrew in 2022 from the exploration efforts.

The consortium partners signed the agreement in Beirut on January 29, at a ceremony attended by Walid Fayad, Lebanon's Minister of Energy and Water; Saad Al Kaabi, Qatar’s Minister of State for Energy Affairs and president and chief executive of QatarEnergy; Claudio Descalzi, chief executive of Eni, and Mr Pouyanné.

Updated: January 29, 2023, 4:04 PM