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Lebanon Oil Exploration Continues Amid Preventive Measures

Lebanon Oil Exploration Continues Amid Preventive Measures

Thursday, 2 April, 2020 - 09:00
The drilling ship Tungsten Explorer is seen off the coast of Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Gas and oil exploration off the Lebanese coast has not been obstructed by the coronavirus outbreak, as drilling continued in Block 4 and reached the depth of 3,000 meters, in preparation for reaching 4,200 meters in the coming weeks.

While many believed that the process might be affected by the new lockdown measures, member of the Lebanese Petroleum Administration (LPA) Dr. Nasser Hoteit told Asharq Al-Awsat that the exploration process was taking place “professionally and transparently.”

He stressed that all necessary health standards were respected to protect workers from the coronavirus.

The Tungsten Explorer drilling ship started operation on February 25, and is drilling the first exploration well in the Special Economic Zone in Block 4 off the Lebanese coast, about thirty kilometers from Beirut.

Hoteit, who is following-up the drilling operations with French Total, said there was close cooperation with the two other members of the Consortium, Italian ENI and Russian Novatek.

Eni announced last week that it was reviewing all of its energy projects in the region for the year 2020-2021, due to the outbreak of the coronavirus and the current situation in the oil market. The company said it would announce its revised plan this month.

Regardless of ENI’s position, Hoteit said that Total was drilling the wells.

“The two affiliated companies within the consortium are constantly updated about the developments,” he emphasized, adding that ENI’s upcoming decisions would not hinder the exploration process.

Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat the measures adopted to face the coronavirus outbreak included, among others, “reducing the alternation of shifts onboard the drilling ship,” and imposing a two-week quarantine at a dLebanese hotel to all the staff coming from abroad to work on the ship.

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