State-run QatarEnergy got a 30% interest in two offshore Lebanese exploration blocks after the transfer was completed by TotalEnergies and Eni, the companies said in separate Jan. 29 statements.
TotalEnergies, as operator, and its Italian partner Eni will each retain 35% interest in blocks 4 and 9 located off the coast of Lebanon after a signing ceremony on Jan. 29 in Beirut. QatarEnergy said it was its first exploration project in Lebanon, and the agreement included the Lebanese government. Financial terms were not reported by any of the companies.
"The operation strengthens the strategic cooperation with QatarEnergy, a partner in Qatar, Oman, Mexico, Morocco and Mozambique, and confirms the interest of the exploratory basins in the Eastern Mediterranean," Eni said in a statement on its website.
Block 9 has a total area of 1,749 sq km and lies about 80 km off the coast of southern Lebanon in water depths of approximately 1,700 meters while block 4 has a total area of 1,911 sq km and is located in water depths of about 1,500 meters, QatarEnergy said.
Qatar becomes the latest entrant in Lebanon's contentious offshore exploration for gas, which has picked up the pace following the country's plans to tap domestic resources to lower expensive energy import bills.
The southern part of Lebanon's block 9 lies in waters previously disputed with Israel. The two countries, which remain hostile, eventually ended a two-year standoff to come to terms with exploration along the contested block through a US-brokered deal.
Though full details remain unclear, TotalEnergies is expected to pay future royalties to Israel for exploration along the southern part of Block 9.
Lebanon's maritime exploration has been beset by several challenges due to its internal politics as well as relations with neighbors.
Russia's Novatek, which had previously successfully bid and won rights to develop Blocks 4 and 9, exited the concessions, selling its 20% interests to the Lebanese government in September 2022.
Beirut later handed temporary majority share to TotalEnergies following Novatek's exit after protracted discussions.