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The Lebanese Parliament voted into law on Tuesday legislation that regulates the tax regime from oil and gas operations in the country, in a milestone law for bidders in Lebanon’s first tender for offshore exploration oil blocks.
The draft law planned for a 20-percent income tax, and a stamp-duty fee fixed at the equivalent of US$3,316 (5 million Lebanese pounds), Bloomberg reports, citing the Lebanese National News Agency (NNA).
After passing key legislation to advance its stalled oil and gas licensing tenders, Lebanon opened in January five offshore blocks up for bidding, relaunching the first licensing round only after three years of political impasse.
Earlier in January, the new Lebanese government adopted two landmark decrees to define oil and gas exploration blocks, paving the way to tendering offshore reserves in Lebanon’s portion of the prolific Levant Basin in the Mediterranean.
Earlier this month, Lebanon extended the deadline for submission of applications from September 15 to October 12, the Lebanese Petroleum Administration said.
Before the bidding hit a snag in 2013, a total of 12 companies had pre-qualified as operators in the first offshore licensing round, including majors such as Chevron, Eni, ExxonMobil, Petrobras, Shell, Statoil, and Total. Twelve applicants were prequalified as right-holders operators and 34 as right-holders non-operators.
In the upcoming re-opened prequalification round, international oil and gas companies are invited to participate in the prequalification round as potential operators or non-operators.
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“Companies that have been already pre-qualified do not need to participate in the new prequalification round as they are eligible to participate in the bid round as long as they still meet the prequalification criteria,” the Lebanese Petroleum Administration says.
Lebanon—which shares the Levant Basin with Israel, Cyprus, and Syria—has been far behind Israel and Cyprus in exploring and developing its share of resources due to political impasse over the past few years, a dispute with Israel over Lebanon’s southern maritime border, and the lack of the legislation dividing its waters into exploration blocks.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.