Cabinet appoints government body to oversee oil sector


The Lebanese cabinet met on Wednesday at the Baabda presidential palace and approved the appointment of the six member oil regulatory authority ( or National Oil Company of Lebanon ) that will be charged with managing the oil / gas sector of the economy including the launching of the bidding process and issuing the required decrees in accordance with the Lebanese laws.

The newly appointed six members of the oil regulatory authority according to Information Minister Walid Daouk are as follows:

Walid Nasr , (Greek Catholic) ( head of Strategic Planning section), Nasser Hteit (Shiite) (head of Technical and Engineering section), Wissam Shbat (Maronite) ( Head of Geology and Geophysics section), Gaby Daaboul (Greek Orthodox)( Head of Legal Affairs ), Wissam al-Zahabi (Sunni) (Head of Economic and Financial Affairs ), Asim Abu Ibrahim ( Druze) (head of quality control, health , safety and the environment).

The presidency of the oil regulatory authority will be rotated annually according to the alphabetical sequence of the family name of the members. Accordingly the first president will be Asim Abu Ibrahim.

The term of the oil regulatory authority will be six years

MTV reported that the appointments were based on a proposal by Energy Minister Jebran Bassil who was tasked with submitting the list of names to the cabinet.

Speaker Nabih Berri reportedly “intervened to speed up the appointments of the membership of the authority with the aim of improving the poor economic situation in Lebanon”, according to NBN TV

The oil regulatory authority should have been formed long time ago according to local reports but disputes between Berri’s AMAL movement and MP Michel Aoun’s Change and Reform bloc delayed the appointments. Reports also surfaced earlier this year of a dispute between Berri and Hezbollah over the naming of the Shiite member of the authority .

Berri announced over the weekend that a recent international study had revealed that Lebanon sits on the largest oil and gas reserves in the region.

Background info

The recent result of a seismic survey conducted by Spectrum a British company in Lebanese territorial waters indicated that there are thirty-one sites containing oil reservoirs ”

The oil regulatory authority is expected to launch tenders for oil and gas exploration, drilling , and all related services, and is all set to welcome foreign oil companies and Investors.

There will be a conference in Lebanon on February 26, 27 at the Habtour Hilton hotel ( Logec 2013 -Lebanon oil, gas and energy conference ) that will showcase the latest in oil and gas equipment and technology to which foreign oil companies and investors will be invited .

According to preliminary estimates the volume of gas reserves in Lebanon’s south-west corner is approximately 25 trillion cubic feet which is worth over $40 billion.

Roudi Baroudi, secretary-general of World Energy Council estimates that Lebanon’s offshore fields could produce up to 90,000 barrels of oil per day for up to 20 years, with a market value of this output at around $70 billion ( for the entire productions based on the current crude oil market ).

Lebanon is a heavily indebted nation. The national debt is about $66 billion while the GNP is around $40 billion. The Lebanese leaders are claiming that they intend to use the oil and gas revenues to pay off the national debt, but unfortunately corruption is so huge in Lebanon, people are doubtful about the intentions of their leaders.