TotalEnergies Aims To Drill Offshore Lebanon 'As Soon as Possible'

The French supermajor is looking to drill Lebanon's first successful exploration well by the end of next year.

TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanné.
Source: SPE.

TotalEnergies announced today that drilling teams are mobilized for exploration in the Mediterranean Sea offshore Lebanon with a goal to “complete the drilling as soon as possible in 2023.”

The development comes 6 weeks after the governments of Lebanon and Israel struck a historic deal to settle their long-running maritime border dispute.

Patrick Pouyanné, TotalEnergies CEO, confirmed the launch of the project while hosting Walid Fayad, Minister of Energy and Water of Lebanon, at the French supermajor’s headquarters in Paris.

A group of about 10 employees of TotalEnergies are spearheading the preparation work for the exploration well which will be drilled in Block 9 found along Lebanon’s southern maritime border. The company expects to have an offshore rig contracted by March and said an environmental study should be completed no later than June of next year.

In October, a US-led negotiation saw Lebanon and Israel agree to establish a maritime border line that bisects the Qana gas prospect in Block 9.

Terms of the agreement give Lebanon full control over the Qana prospect while giving Israel a share of the potential revenues. TotalEnergies is serving as an intermediary by operating under the authority of the Lebanese government while assuming the responsibility of issuing payments to Israel for its portion of any commercial gas production.

The arrangement addresses the tenuous political relationship between Lebanon and Israel which have been in a technical state of war for decades. Until the deal, the two nations remained deadlocked on how to demarcate the disputed area, which prevented TotalEnergies from drilling there, that covers about 330 square miles.

It is now hoped that Block 9 will be the remedy for a disappointing debut of the Lebanese offshore sector. The country’s first offshore well drilled in 2020 in Block 4 yielded only trace volumes of natural gas. The dry hole was drilled about 18 miles offshore Beirut by operator TotalEnergies.

Blocks 4 and 9 were awarded to a TotalEnergies-led consortium in Lebanon’s first offshore licensing round in 2017. In addition to TotalEnergies (40%), the partnership included Italy’s Eni (40%) and Russia’s Novatek (20%). Novatek has since relinquished its nonoperating stake following the ongoing war in Ukraine.