MUSCAT: Oman has signed a deal for oil and gas exploration with a Lebanese company, one month after Lebanon approved its first offshore energy exploration, state media said Wednesday.
Beirut-based Petroleb would drill exploratory wells to assess oil reserves in the Al-Afif concession area of southern Oman, inland from the borders of Yemen and Saudi Arabia, the official ONA news agency said.
Oman aims to “increase oil reserves and raise production rates in the sultanate” and discover new fields, the Oil and Gas Ministry’s director of planning and research, Saleh bin Ali Anbouri, said in a statement carried by ONA.
Like other energy-rich Gulf states, Oman was hit hard by the slump in oil prices since mid-2014 and joined an agreement by oil producers to cut output in a bid to shore up prices.
Revenues are up 3 percent from last year at an estimated at $24.7 billion. Spending, however, is projected at $32.5 billion, 7 percent higher than last year, according to the Finance Ministry.
The deal with Petroleb is small by regional standards, with an estimated investment value of $20 million for Oman in the first three-year phase and between $20 million and $40 million in the second phase.
Lebanon last month approved a bid for offshore oil and gas exploration off its own Mediterranean coast – a vision that has been hampered for years by political instability and domestic wrangling.
That deal was awarded to the only bidder, an international consortium including France’s Total and Russia’s Novatek.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 11, 2018, on page 4.