Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Lebanon opens bidding for East Med gas
by Staff Writers
Beirut, Lebanon (UPI) Jan 2, 2013

As many as 40 international oil companies are expected to bid for offshore natural gas exploration blocks in Lebanon's sector of the eastern Mediterranean that lies north of major deep-water gas fields in Israeli waters.

But the threat of the 22-month-old civil war in neighboring Syria engulfing tiny Lebanon, which is already disputing control of a 330-square-mile triangle of seabed with the Jewish state, could dampen investor enthusiasm in an energy bonanza that could dramatically alter the dynamics of Levantine economies, and could, in theory, improve the prospects for a long-elusive peace.

That may be a pipe dream. But the Lebanese government, shaky though it is, plans to launch an international tender for offshore exploration Feb. 1.

Some experts value the gas reserves at $300 billion-$700 billion, a substantial prize. But Lebanon has a history that could be a problem. Its volatile politics are essentially split between pro- and anti-Syrian factions that transcend the traditional Muslim-Christian divide. Both factions have been aiding allies in Syria.

Muslim and Christians leaders on both sides, no doubt mindful of the potentially catastrophic consequences of full-scale war between the two factions and horrific memories of the bloody 1975-90 Lebanese civil war, have been striving to prevent a new conflagration.

But volatile Lebanon remains highly susceptible to the increasingly sectarian nature of the Syrian bloodbath.

The region's wider conflict -- that between Islam's mainstream Sunni sect and the more radical Shiite minority epitomized in the current confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Iran -- is also roiling Lebanon.

The Syrian bloodletting is an extension of this gathering conflict, exacerbated by the continuing upheaval of the Arab Spring in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya where longtime dictators were toppled in an eight-month period in 2011.

Algeria has avoided the worst excesses of the Arab Spring but may yet find itself engulfed a decade after a bloody civil war with Islamists, which was, in essence, the forerunner of the Arab Spring and the Arab Winter that seems to be evolving.

Technically, Lebanon and Israel are still at war as part of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The Iranian-backed, pro-Syrian Hezbollah, the most powerful military force in Lebanon, fought an inconclusive 34-day war with Israel in 2006.

Both sides still consider that unfinished business.

Israel's known offshore gas reserves stand at around 25 trillion cubic feet and will undoubtedly grow amid continuing exploration.

Reserves off Lebanon, which is seven years behind Israel in developing its energy resources, are less finite at this stage but recent 3-D seismic surveys indicate 9.7 tcf in the southern sector alone.

Factor in war-divided Cyprus, where the Greek-Cypriot Aphrodite gas field is believed to hold at least 7 tcf, and the age-old rivalry between Greece and Turkey comes into play, stirring up other threats and dangers.

The emerging dimensions of all these disputed offshore gas fields send the regional threat thermometer into the red zone.

And no one seems to have given a great deal of thought to how the Syrian conflict could impact the region's increasingly complex regional energy politics.

The U.S. Geological Survey announced in 2010 that the Levant Basin contains an estimated 122 tcf of gas, as well as 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil.

That includes the waters off Syria, where the minority, Iranian-backed Alawite regime of President Bashar al-Assad is battling for survival against a Saudi-supported insurrection.

"Syria's offshore potential is indicated by the large Cypriot and Israeli gas discoveries nearby, but cannot be explored soon enough to make a separate Alawite entity in northern Syria economically viable," analyst Robin Mills wrote in The National, an English-language daily published in the United Arab Emirates.

So the outcome of the Syrian civil war could easily heighten the geopolitical tensions surrounding the region's energy resources.

The sectarian differences within Lebanon, driven by such outside influences, remain the biggest threats.

The expected discovery of major gas fields off Lebanon holds out economic salvation for a state that only barely functions and basically exists on handouts by Iran and Saudi Arabia.

But given the deep-rooted corruption and sectarian rivalries that pervade this land the auctioning of exploration licenses could exacerbate tensions.

"You're on your way to heaven or hell, so proceed with caution," energy economist Carole Nakhle warned at an oil and gas meeting in Beirut in December.


Related Links
Powering The World in the 21st Century at

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Conservation Not Technology will be our Saviour Says Chris Martenson
London, UK (SPX) Jan 01, 2013
In the first part of this series Chris Martenson spoke about: Why we shouldn't be speaking about Energy Independence, why we could see $200 a barrel oil in the near future, why peak oil is not a defunct theory, what we aren't being told about the shale boom, and much more. In the concluding part Chris Martenson talks about how How tight oil is being oversold and other critical issues facing the ... read more

Russia designs manned lunar spacecraft

GRAIL Lunar Impact Site Named for Astronaut Sally Ride

NASA probes crash into the moon

No plans of sending an Indian on moon

Stanford researchers develop acrobatic space rovers to explore moons and asteroids

Researchers Identify Water Rich Meteorite Linked To Mars Crust

Mars meteorite has significant water

'Spiky' rovers could explore martian moon

Congress Approves Bill Supporting Human Space Exploration

China's Chengdu aiming to be world's next Silicon Valley

Satellite highs, suspension lows for Indian space sector in 2012

NASA's Destination Station Exhibit Opens In Mesa, Arizona

Mr Xi in Space

China plans manned space launch in 2013: state media

China to launch manned spacecraft

Tiangong 1 Parked And Waiting As Shenzhou 10 Mission Prep Continues

Station Crew Ringing in New Year

Expedition 34 Ready to Ring in New Year

New ISS crew docked at Space Station

Expedition 34 Spends Christmas in Space

CSF Applauds Passage Of Risk-Sharing Regime Extension For Launch Industry

Rokot Launch Set for January 15

Russian rocket launch rescheduled

Investigation into Proton Launch Anomaly Continues as Root Cause is being Evaluated

Billions and Billions of Planets

ALMA Shows How Young Star and Planets Grow Simultaneously

ALMA Sheds Light on Planet-Forming Gas Streams

A stray planet

COM DEV wins commercial contract from MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates

Thai 'scavengers club' turns trash to treasure

Malaysia convoy in Australia rare earth plant protest

All Systems Go for Highest Altitude Supercomputer

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement