Qatar’s state-owned energy company, QatarEnergy, is set to join TotalEnergies and Eni in a consortium to explore two offshore blocks mostly in Lebanese waters, according to an announcement from Lebanon’s energy ministry.
Speaking to Reuters, Energy Minister Walid Fayad heralded the news as a substantial “positive development”, pointing out that exploration activities could begin sooner than had previously been expected. The consortium that won the rights to explore Blocks 4 and 9 originally included Novatek of Russia, but it pulled out last year and left the Lebanese Government with its 20% stake.
Under the new arrangement, Eni and TotalEnergies will each hold a 35% interest, while QatarEnergy will hold the remaining 30%. TotalEnergies, which also makes the Total food safe lubricants and other industrial fluids and grease products, was also recently reported as being in discussions with QatarEnergy to sell a stake in its Iraq projects, indicating that the two companies are forming an increasingly close relationship.
The maritime border between Lebanon and Israel has long been disputed, but a landmark US-brokered agreement last year finally resolved the matter, paving the way for exploration to begin. Part of Block 9 is located in Israeli waters according to this new border, but TotalEnergies has agreed a separate deal with Israel regarding revenues.
Since the disruption to European gas supplies following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there has been increased interest in exploring the eastern areas of the Mediterranean Sea. A number of notable discoveries of natural gas resources have been made in this region in recent years.