Saturday, March 11, 2017

Will Lebanon tap its oil and gas wealth? - AL JAZEERA

11 Mar 2017 13:06 GMT

A nine minute video examines Beirut's ambitions to tap into its energy sector and the challenges ahead.

Years of war and political instability have disrupted Lebanon's ambitions to tap into its energy sector.

Bidding for the right to develop oil and gas fields buried offshore is due to start later this year amid hopes the discoveries will help transform the country's economy.

Lebanon, which has the highest debt as a share of annual economic output among Arab states, regularly suffers from power outages.

Oil companies will have to invest millions of dollars in exploration and drilling, but transporting the gas to consumers could prove tricky due to maritime border disputes and political uncertainty in the region.

Neighbouring countries, including Egypt, Israel and Cyprus, have already started production and some fear Lebanon may never catch up.

Imtiaz Tyab reports from Tripoli, in northern Lebanon, about the challenges ahead.

"Once we start drilling, we'll know how much reserves we have, but we should be very prudent and not talk about numbers and figures," said Laury Haytayan, senior MENA officer with the London-based Natural Resource Governance Institute.

"If we want to export, we need to find the right buyers - gas needs buyers before we even starting production. This will be the greatest challenge," Haytayan added.

"The safest and wisest option for Lebanon is to use the gas to meet its domestic needs."

Watch the video