Beirut, June 14 - Neftegaz.RU. Russian and European firms are mulling investments in Lebanon's oil & gas sector as it prepares to launch offshore drilling by the end of 2019, Energy Minister Nada Boustani said.
"Several big companies have visited Lebanon," she told Agence France Presse in an interview. "We are talking about Gazprom, Lukoil, and soon, BP is expected to visit. There is also interest from Total, ENI and Novatek", she added.
Last year, Lebanon signed its 1st contract to drill for oil & gas in its waters. A consortium comprising energy giants Total, ENI and Novatek took the 1st 2 of its 10 blocks, incl. 1 disputed by neighboring Israel with which Lebanon has fought several wars.
On April 5, Lebanon invited international consortia of at least 3 companies to bid for 5 more blocks by the end of January 2020.
Lebanon may have to strike a deal with Syria, with which it has a maritime border dispute. 2 of the 5 blocks up for bidding until January 2020 border Syrian waters, which may complicate drilling.
Laury Haytayan, a Middle East oil & gas expert, said Russia may take the lead in negotiations because Moscow is interested in conducting exploration works on block 2.
"The Russians could mediate between Lebanon and Syria and together they will put in place a plan to share resources and outputs," she said.