TotalEnergies to Drill Lebanon's Block 9 This Year

TotalEnergies to Drill Lebanon's Block 9 This Year
The exploration comes after Lebanon and Israel resolved their row over their border, around which the block lies.
Image by nielubieklonu via iStock

TotalEnergies SE announced Tuesday a contract to start exploration on Block 9 offshore Lebanon “as soon as possible in 2023”.

The deal contracting driller Transocean Ltd follows last year’s treaty between Lebanon and Israel delineating their maritime border, around which Block 9 lies. The dispute resolution brokered by the USA and signed by the Mediterranean neighbors October 2022 relinquishes any Israeli rights to develop hydrocarbon deposits in Block 9 after remuneration by developers.

“As per the announced schedule, TotalEnergies in agreement with its partners ENI and QatarEnergy has signed a firm contract with Transocean to hire the drilling rig that will drill an exploration well on Block 9 offshore Lebanon, as soon as possible in 2023”, the French multinational giant said in a press release. “With the mobilization of the teams, this is a new key step in the preparation of the operations”.

A consortium initially comprising TotalEnergies, Italy’s Eni SPA and Russia’s PAO NOVATEK obtained exploration and production rights for blocks 9 and 4 from Beirut, as announced by TotalEnergies 2018. Development rights now belong to TotalEnergies with a 35 percent stake, state-controlled Eni with also 35 percent and QatarEnergy after an agreement transferring 30 percent to the state-owned Qatari corporation, as announced by TotalEnergies January 29.

Paving the way for the partners to begin drilling Block 9 was a pact inked by Eni and TotalEnergies with the Israeli government “to implement the agreement on maritime boundary”, TotalEnergies said November 15, 2022.

The boundary delineation deal stated no Israeli or Lebanese corporations shall hold any exploration and exploitation rights for Block 9.

“The Parties understand that there is a hydrocarbon prospect of currently unknown commercial viability that exists at least partially in the area the Parties understand to be Lebanon’s Block 9, and at least partially in the area the Parties understand to be Israel’s Block 72”, the agreement text read.

“The Parties agree that the relevant legal entity to hold any Lebanese rights to exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbon resources in Lebanon’s Block 9 (Block 9 Operator) shall consist of one or more reputable, international corporations that are not subject to international sanctions, that would not hinder US continued facilitation, and that are not Israeli or Lebanese corporations”, it added. “These criteria shall also apply to the selection of any successors or replacements of those corporations”.

While the treaty awarded Lebanon the rights to develop Block 9, it entitles Israel to compensation by the operator.

The two countries also agreed: “If drilling of the Prospect [the area comprising Lebanon’s Block 9 and Israel’s Block 72] is necessary south of the MBL [maritime boundary line], the Parties [Lebanon and Israel] expect the Block 9 Operator to request the consent of the Parties in advance of drilling and Israel will not unreasonably withhold such consent for drilling conducted in accordance with the terms of this Agreement”.

TotalEnergies said announcing its agreement with Israel: “Following the signature of this Framework Agreement, the Block 9 partners will initiate the exploration of an already identified prospect which might extend both in Block 9 and into Israel waters South of the recently established Maritime Border Line”.

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