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Lebanon’s Oil Future on Hold

We want to take another look at what’s going on in Lebanon--in terms of the spillover of the conflict in Syria, the meddling of external actors, and the internal political stalemate, which are all coalescing to keep the country from tapping into the massive reserves of the Levant Basin while it watches Israel race to the finish line.

First things first. How much oil and gas are we talking about? Surveys are being conducted as we speak, and so far so good. Lebanon’s caretaker energy minister, Gebran Bassil, came out earlier this week saying that with only half of the surveying complete, it looks like estimates are much larger than previously thought. He’s being cautious in his statement, noting that “the current estimate, under a probability of 50 percent, for almost 45 percent of our waters has reached 95.9 trillion cubic feet of gas and 865 million barrels of oil.”

Up for grabs—eventually—will be 10 exploration blocks of 1,500-2,500 square kilometers each in Lebanon’s portion of the Levant Basin.
 We already know the Levant Basin—an 83,000-square-kilometer oil and gas behemoth in the eastern Mediterranean—is prolific. Back in 2010, the US Geological Survey estimated that the entire basin holds somewhere in the neighborhood of 122 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas and 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil. Sharing in the Levant Basin wealth we have Israel, which has already made…

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