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Lebanon oil lures Shell, Petrobras, ExxonMobil

In this photo provided by the Cyprus Press and Information office, the Noble Energy company's offshore oil and gas rig is seen some 115 miles (185 kilometers) off Cyprus' south coast, Monday, Nov. 21, 2011. (AP Photo/Press and Information Office, HO)

Royal Dutch Shell PLC, ExxonMobil Corp., Petroleo Brasileiro SA and Total SA all obtained tender documents allowing them to bid for exploration licenses off Lebanon, according to the country’s industry regulator.

The oil and gas producers are among 12 that qualified for bidding rights as operators, Lebanese Petroleum Administration President Assem Abou Ibrahim said today in Beirut. More than 30 other companies, seeking to invest in rather than operate the licenses, also have the documents that were released May 2.

The Middle Eastern country is offering blocks in the Mediterranean Sea near Israeli and Cypriot waters where Noble Energy Inc. has already discovered commercial quantities of gas. Lebanon, seeking revenue to help reduce its $56 billion of public debt, expects to award contracts next February.

The other companies that qualified as potential operators are Eni SpA, Chevron Corp., Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Repsol SA, Petroliam Nasional Bhd, Statoil ASA, AP Moeller-Maersk A/S and Inpex Corp., according to the regulator’s website. Operators must form groups with other investors to bid for exploration and production-sharing contracts, or PSCs.

The government still needs to issue three decrees that demarcate the blocks to be explored, establish PSCs and specify tender protocols. Since the current caretaker government has no legal right to make the decrees, the bidding may be extended if the orders haven’t been issued by Sept. 2, Energy Minister Gebran Bassil said on April 30.

Among the 34 companies that prequalified as nonoperators are Genel Energy PLC, Suncor Energy Inc., Marathon Oil Corp., Santos Ltd., OMV AG, INA Industrija Nafte DD, GDF Suez SA, MOL Hungarian Oil & Gas PLC, Cairn Energy PLC, Cairn India Ltd., Dana Petroleum PLC, Mitsui E&P Middle East BV, Korea Gas Corp., Lukoil Overseas Lebanon BV, OAO Rosneft, Turkiye Petrolleri AO, Dana Gas PJSC and Dragon Oil PLC, the regulator’s website shows.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 11, 2013, on page 4.

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