Minister: Drilling Rig Arrives in Lebanon’s Block 9 to Begin Exploration

08 August 2023, Lebanon, Naqoura: Israeli navy boats patrol off the coast of the Lebanese village of Naqoura, during a tour conducted by the Lebanese army for Western diplomats and military attaches. Photo: Marwan Naamani/dpa
08 August 2023, Lebanon, Naqoura: Israeli navy boats patrol off the coast of the Lebanese village of Naqoura, during a tour conducted by the Lebanese army for Western diplomats and military attaches. Photo: Marwan Naamani/dpa
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Minister: Drilling Rig Arrives in Lebanon’s Block 9 to Begin Exploration

08 August 2023, Lebanon, Naqoura: Israeli navy boats patrol off the coast of the Lebanese village of Naqoura, during a tour conducted by the Lebanese army for Western diplomats and military attaches. Photo: Marwan Naamani/dpa
08 August 2023, Lebanon, Naqoura: Israeli navy boats patrol off the coast of the Lebanese village of Naqoura, during a tour conducted by the Lebanese army for Western diplomats and military attaches. Photo: Marwan Naamani/dpa

The TransOcean Barents drilling rig arrived in Lebanon’s Block 9 on Wednesday to begin exploration activities, Minister of Public Works and Transport, Ali Hamie, posted on X, following a landmark US-brokered agreement last year that delineated the contentious maritime border between Lebanon and Israel to the south.

The consortium drilling in Block 9 is led by France’s TotalEnergies and includes Italian oil giant ENI and state-owned QatarEnergy.

Lebanon’s energy minister Walid Fayad said in May that he expected to know whether there would be a discovery there by the end of the year.

ENI CEO Claudio Descalzi said in January that he was “positive” about a discovery there.

Lebanon hopes gas and oil discoveries will help it reverse a crippling economic crisis that has cost the local currency more than 98% of its value, eroded the country's foreign reserves and caused rolling blackouts across towns and cities.
The drilling became possible after the United States mediated a deal that set a maritime border between Lebanese and Israeli waters for the first time.
A mechanism for the consortium to exploit possible discoveries that extend south from Block 9 past that border was also established. That exploitation would be done on behalf of Lebanon but with a royalties system set up for Israel.



US Invites Sudan's Warring Parties for Talks

FILE PHOTO: A view of a street in the city of Omdurman damaged in the year-long civil war in Sudan, April 7, 2024. REUTERS/El Tayeb Siddig/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A view of a street in the city of Omdurman damaged in the year-long civil war in Sudan, April 7, 2024. REUTERS/El Tayeb Siddig/File Photo
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US Invites Sudan's Warring Parties for Talks

FILE PHOTO: A view of a street in the city of Omdurman damaged in the year-long civil war in Sudan, April 7, 2024. REUTERS/El Tayeb Siddig/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A view of a street in the city of Omdurman damaged in the year-long civil war in Sudan, April 7, 2024. REUTERS/El Tayeb Siddig/File Photo

Washington has invited the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces for US-mediated ceasefire talks starting on Aug. 14 in Switzerland, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday.

RSF leader Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo said early on Wednesday they will constructively participate in the talks to achieve "a comprehensive ceasefire across the country and facilitate humanitarian access to all those in need."
"We reaffirm our firm stance ... which is the insistence on saving lives, stopping the fighting, and paving the way for a peaceful, negotiated political solution that restores the country to civilian rule and the path of democratic transition," Dagalo said in a statement.

The talks will include the African Union, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and the United Nations as observers, Blinken said in a statement. Saudi Arabia will be a co-host for the discussions, he added.

"The scale of death, suffering, and destruction in Sudan is devastating. This senseless conflict must end," Blinken said, calling on the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the RSF to attend the talks and approach them constructively.

The war in Sudan, which erupted in April 2023, has forced almost 10 million people from their homes, sparked warnings of famine and waves of ethnically-driven violence.