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

Lebanon's gas boom-in-waiting goes into deep freeze
by Staff Writers
Beirut, Lebanon (UPI) Nov 7, 2013

Lebanon's energy boom-in-waiting seems to be more or less on permanent hold these days, with little prospect that the country's perpetually feuding politicians can set aside their sectarian rivalries to get exploration under way.

But the danger of spillover from the Syrian civil war next door and meddling by regional powers like Saudi Arabia and Iran could well put the whole economy-saving enterprise into deep freeze for a long time.

The most immediate problem is that Lebanon, squeezed by a national debt of $60 billion and its economy crumbling by the day, has been without a government since March, when the Iranian-backed Hezbollah engineered the collapse of a so-called unity Cabinet.

All efforts to cobble together a new one have foundered on the sectarian rivalries that have dogged the tiny Mediterranean state since France bestowed independence in 1943.

At that time, Christians, headed by Maronite Catholics, were purportedly in the majority, thanks to a little French jiggery-pokery with the demographics before they departed.

But these days Shiite Muslims are the largest single sect and they're dominated by Hezbollah, which refuses to accept any Cabinet it does not control.

Now, on top of these rivalries -- not to mention the deep-rooted friction between Lebanon's Sunni Muslims, protected by Saudi Arabia, and the increasingly powerful Shiites, aligned with Iran -- the war in neighboring Syria is intruding more and more every day.

This is not going to go away, and every day the friction gets worse as the Syrian conflict increasingly becomes a flat-out sectarian war between majority Sunnis and minority Alawites, a Shiite offshoot that's ruled since 1970 -- in other words, a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Because there's no government, no decision can be made to launch exploration of 10 offshore blocks in Lebanon's Exclusive Economic Zone in the eastern Mediterranean.

In April, 46 international oil companies were approved to participate in bidding for these blocks. The auction was supposed to have taken place this month, but was postponed until December. That's been put back to Jan. 10, 2014.

But even that date's far from certain. The companies are getting impatient. No-one's withdrawn yet, but interest is waning.

Israel and Cyprus, both neighbors of Lebanon, have already made strikes. Israel's found reserves of around 25 trillion-30 trillion cubic feet of gas and expects to discover more. It began production in March.

Cyprus is still exploring its southern waters that abuts Israel's giant Leviathan field, and estimates there's at least 7 tcf there.

Lebanon's caretaker energy minister, Gebran Bassil, declared in October that seismic surveys of 45 percent of Lebanese waters indicate reserves of 95.9 tcf -- plus 865 million barrels of oil.

The country's 10 exploration blocks range in size from 580 square miles to 965 square miles, so it's likely that total reserves will be far higher than previous estimates.

Indeed, based on those calculations, Lebanon could be sitting on most of the 122 tcf (trillion cubic feet) of recoverable gas, and 1.7 billion barrels of oil, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates lies deep under the Levant Basin off Syria, Lebanon, Israel, the Gaza Strip and Cyprus.

Meanwhile, Lebanon's political vacuum drags on, with no end in sight.

The danger here is that the sectarian divisions that plunged Lebanon into a 1975-90 civil war fueled by outside powers in which an estimated 150,000 people were killed, will explode once again, ignited by the Syrian war that encroaches a little more every day.

A major offensive by Syrian President Bashar Assad, who's backed by Iran, is expected in the coming weeks and seems certain to boil over along Lebanon's northeastern border, where violence is swelling daily.

On top of this, Lebanese President Michel Sleiman's six-year term expires in May, but parliament, which elects presidents, is paralyzed. So the prospect of a divisive presidential vacuum looms on top of everything else.

There's also a danger that Saudi Arabia, disillusioned with the U.S. failure to attack Assad in Syria and possibly end that war, will seek once again to meddle in Lebanon by bolstering the outnumbered Sunnis to distract Hezbollah from helping keep Assad in power.

Those concerns were heightened two weeks ago when Hezbollah's deputy leader, Naim Qassem, warned that the Sunni-led March 14 alliance was under orders from "a gulf state to obstruct the formation of a new Cabinet."


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

Shell 'manipulates Nigeria oil spills probes': Amnesty
Lagos (AFP) Nov 07, 2013
Amnesty International alleged on Thursday that Shell has repeatedly misrepresented the cause of oil spills in Nigeria, blaming criminal sabotage to avoid liability, in a charge the Anglo-Dutch energy giant dismissed as "unsubstantiated". The number of spills in the southern Niger Delta region, home to Africa's largest oil industry, was "staggering", the London-based rights group said in a ne ... read more

Moon mission yields clues to face of 'man in the moon'

Shanghai-built lunar rover set for lunar landing

Crowdfunded Lunar Spacecraft Reaches Funding Milestone

LADEE Continues To Settle Into Operational Lunar Orbit

Curiosity Team Working To Understand First Fault Related Warm Reset

Multiple Missions Will Get China Moving On Mars

Mythbusting India's Mars Mission

India reaches for Mars on prestige space mission

UCF Lands NASA-Funded Center, Linchpin for Future Space Missions

NASA Selects Research Teams for New Virtual Institute

From North Pole to the stars: Russia's thrill-seeking tycoon

A look at recent tech sector IPOs

China shows off moon rover model before space launch

China providing space training

China launches experimental satellite Shijian-16

China Moon Rover A New Opportunity To Explore Our Nearest Neighbor

Russia launches Sochi Olympic torch into space

Spaceflight Joins with NanoRacks to Deploy Satellites from the ISS

Crew Completes Preparations for Soyuz Move

Mission accomplished for Europe's cargo freighter

ASTRA 5B lands in French Guiana for its upcoming Ariane 5 flight

Kazakhstan say Baikonur launch site may be open to Western countries

ESA Swarm launch postponed

Europe's fifth ATV for launch by Arianespace begins its pre-flight checkout at the Spaceport

NASA Kepler Results Usher in a New Era of Astronomy

Astronomers answer key question: How common are habitable planets?

One in five Sun-like stars may have Earth-like planets

Mystery World Baffles Astronomers

Highly stable quantum light source for applications in quantum information systems

Quantum 'sealed envelope' system enables 'perfectly secure' information storage

London Metal Exchange announces warehouse shake-up

Monkeys use minds to move two virtual arms

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