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Lebanon: President Says International Pressures Hamper Oil Extraction

Lebanon: President Says International Pressures Hamper Oil Extraction

Friday, 25 March, 2022 - 07:00
The Tungsten Explorer is to start drilling in its first exploration well some 30 kilometers offshore from Beirut. AFP file photo

Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Thursday said that international pressures have prevented Lebanon’s completion of gas and oil extractions.

“Although we have approved the gas and oil extraction projects, international pressures prevented the completion of the work,” Aoun was quoted as saying by his media office.

The President affirmed his “insistence to combat corruption despite efforts exerted in the past two years by some parties to obstruct an auditing company from carrying a forensic audit into the country’s central bank (BDL) accounts,” he said.

Aoun then blamed the Cabinet for hindering the issuance of some decisions due to the lack of approval of two-thirds of the Cabinet members.

The President met Thursday with the French Ambassador to Lebanon Anne Grillo. The two discussed the French and Gulf countries' efforts to help Lebanon at the social and humanitarian levels.

They also discussed the course of negotiations with the International Monetary Fund, and the necessity of approving the financial recovery plan as soon as possible.

In 2018, Lebanon signed contracts for the first time with international companies, including Total, Eni, and Novatek to explore oil and gas in blocks 4 and 9.

Block 9, which includes a disputed part with Israel, will not be included in the exploration although Lebanese officials pin high hopes on it to save the country from its worst economic crisis.

Lebanon and Israel have been holding on-off US mediated talks since October to try to resolve the issue.

Amos Hochstein, US envoy for energy affairs, was in Beirut last month to look into ways to resume Lebanese-Israeli maritime border demarcation talks that have been stalled since November 2020.

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