Lebanon's offshore blocks likely contain oil, not only gas

A recent appraisal of Israel's Karish North Discovery have revealed resources including 34mn barrels of light oil, leading the Lebanese Petroleum Administration to believe oil could lurk under Lebanese waters

LP, Eastern Mediterranean, Karish

As Lebanon continues its efforts to explore for hydrocarbons offshore, an appraisal in a nearby country indicates that its resources could include oil, rather than mostly gas as originally thought. The Lebanese Petroleum Administration (LPA) noted in a document about the nation's offshore geology that "recent studies reveal the potential for several gas-prone and oil-prone source rocks in the Levant basin," and noted that these rocks have reached maturity.

Energean announced in early November 2019 that its appraisal of Karish North Discovery, in Eastern Mediterranean waters not far from Lebanon's southern border, found recoverable resources of 0.9 trillion cubic feet of gas, as well as 34mn barrels of light oil and condensate.

Lebanon is a relative newcomer to the oil and gas sector, and its hopes were pinned on gas resources, although a mix of oil and gas could provide the country with a revenue stream as well as a source for domestic power generation.

"The electricity sector in Lebanon is undergoing a transition from heavy fuel oil to natural gas," the Lebanese Petroleum Administration wrote in a statement about its second bidding round. "Most of the existing power plants and all the planned plants are equipped to run on natural gas. A prospective natural gas discovery is expected to first fulfill the needs of the local market, in particular the electricity sector, which is the main off-taker of natural gas."

Lebanese residents have intermittent access to electricity, and fuel is imported, making the government's utilities company, Electricite du Liban, a huge financial drain and major source of the nation's ballooning debt.

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