U.S. firm to conduct airborne survey for onshore oil

Caretaker Energy Minister Gebran Bassil, right, speaks with the General Manager of NEOS Geo MENA, Frank Jreij in Beirut, Friday, Jan. 10, 2014. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO)

BEIRUT: A United States firm will conduct an airborne survey of Lebanon to determine if the country has potential onshore oil and gas wealth, the Energy Ministry announced Friday.

The announcement came after caretaker Energy Minister Gebran Bassil and the general manager of NEOS Geosolutions MENA, Frank Jreij, signed an agreement at the Energy Ministry.

Named “Cedar Oil,” the project involves surveying 6,000 square kilometers over the northern part of the country.

The new airborne survey comes just few days after Bassil postponed the offshore gas auction from Jan. 10 till April 10 due to the failure of the caretaker Cabinet to pass two important decrees pertaining to the number of blocks that will be auctioned off and the revenue sharing mechanism. The delay was a further blow to Lebanon’s endeavor to extract gas and oil off the coast.

“The airborne survey agreement with the U.S. firm is part of the efforts to discover oil and gas both onshore and offshore,” Bassil said.

He stressed that no Cabinet or anything else could stop the oil march in Lebanon.

Bassil said many international firms had expressed interest in conducting onshore oil surveys in Lebanon. He said the Energy Ministry was preparing a new draft law on onshore oil.

Bassil added that NEOS Geosolutions would survey half of Lebanon and would complete the other half once the first phase of the project was completed.

Jreij said the airborne survey would reduce the time needed to examine the entire area.

The plane will use six different sensors to survey parts of Lebanon’s geological layers.

The data collected from the sensors will be quickly analyzed to establish if the country has oil and gas onshore.

Jreij said that analyzing the data collected from the plane’s sensors would be much quicker than conventional methods.

The first phase of the project will take up two months, while the data acquisition will be completed within seven months.

Jreij estimated that the entire project would be completed within 18 months.

The British-based Spectrum company began a 2-D seismic onshore survey of the Batroun region last year and intends to complete the survey by the end of this year.

Bassil said at a recent news conference that the initial onshore survey was very promising but declined to give further details.

The company has not disclosed any details about the early findings.

Bassil also said he hoped Lebanese politicians would stop obstructing the drive to tap the country’s oil and gas wealth.

Some news media have reported that the March 14 coalition is insistent on taking the post of the Energy Ministry if an agreement were reached on the composition of the new government.

But it is still not clear if the Free Patriotic Movement, which Bassil belongs to, will be willing to give up the post of the Energy Ministry to March 14.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 11, 2014, on page 4.




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