BEIRUT: Some international oil companies fear that Lebanon may miss another opportunity to hold an offshore gas auction on April 10 due to sharp political differences, the CEO of an energy firm warned Monday.
“There are some companies which are already looking for other countries to do business. They can’t wait until the politicians end their differences,” the executive told The Daily Star on condition of anonymity.
Caretaker Energy and Water Minister Gebran Bassil has said that his party refuses to give up his post in any new government.
Bassil recently postponed for a second time the gas licensing round until April 10, stressing that he would proceed with the auction whether a new Cabinet was formed.
“I know for sure that oil companies are still interested in participating in a second round of licensing, but we fear Lebanon may miss this date,” the CEO said.
He added that the oil companies just want to do business in Lebanon.
“But the political uncertainty is of a concern for the companies. If politicians end their differences and form a Cabinet then these firms will return to Lebanon,” the CEO said.
Meanwhile, Bassil said in a news conference Monday that the final draft for the onshore oil and gas law has been completed and would be sent to the authorities soon.
He also revealed that the initial findings of the onshore oil and gas survey conducted a few months ago were encouraging, noting that the final report would be completed in eight weeks.
“The onshore draft law underlines the importance of strong cooperation between the state and the private companies which will make investments in the oil sector,” Bassil said.
He added that onshore oil and gas extraction was faster and less expensive then exploring for gas off the coast.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 28, 2014, on page 5.