Lebanon, Cyprus to Forge Agreements On Oil
Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil announced on Thursday a consensus with Cyprus to speed up the conclusion of bilateral agreements on oil at the maritime border, hoping that the two sides would form an oil and gas alliance in the coming period.
Lebanon divides its maritime zone, which is supposed to contain gas and oil, into 10 blocks, four of which are adjacent to the territorial waters of Cyprus.
“We have to rush our bilateral agreements, thus we have set an initial date, on May 7, for an initial presentation, and then in June for a more accurate assessment. We hope to reach a final agreement by the first of September,” Bassil told a press conference in Beirut with his Cypriot counterpart Nikos Christodoulides in the presence of the energy ministers of the two countries.
“We hope to establish strategic relations with Cyprus, and we have suggested that any gas or oil discovery between us shall be invested in joint projects,” the Lebanese foreign minister added.
The bilateral meeting comes a week after Lebanon launched the second licensing cycle for oil exploration in Lebanese waters, in five blocks, three of which are adjacent to the Cypriot waters.
Last year, the Lebanese government signed contracts with three international companies, France’s Total, Italy’s Eni and Russia’s Novatek, to explore oil and gas in two blocks, despite tension with Israel over a disputed area in Block 9.
Turkey, in turn, objects to exploration operations in Cyprus. Ankara has warned international oil companies to explore the disputed waters with Turkey, within its support for the Northern Cyprus Republic in the northern part of the island, which is recognized only by Ankara.
Seven Mediterranean countries, including Cyprus, Egypt, and Israel, agreed earlier this year to launch the “Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum”, to be based in Cairo, aimed at establishing a regional gas market that serves the interests of the members.