Qatar Petroleum as well as Iran’s Petropars are among the companies prequalified to participate in Lebanon’s ongoing offshore licensing round.

The Lebanese Petroleum Authority (LPA) announced the list of firms prequalifed to bid to bid on blocks 1, 4, 8, 9 and 10 after a two-week delay.

Lebanon’s new government has looking to monetise its energy assets, where development was stalled due to fractious politics and issued decrees to relaunch its licensing round.

The Qatari and Iranian firms have been pre-qualified as non-operators, while India’s ONGC Videsh has been shortlisted as an operator.

Oil majors such as Shell, Total, Chevron and Exxon Mobil are part of the existing list of firms that pre-qualified in 2013. Gulf firms such as the UAE’s Crescent Petroleum, Dana Gas, Mubadala, Dragon Oil as well as Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company are part of the shortlisted non-operator firms.

In the current round, firms that qualified as non-operators in 2013 were given an opportunity to upgrade their status to operators. Russian firm Lukoil’s bid to participate as an operator was rejected.

The 13 firms that pre-qualified as operators are:

  • Petrobras (Brazil)
  • Maersk (Denmark)
  • Total (France)
  • Eni (Italy)
  • INPEX (Japan)
  • Petronas (Malaysia)
  • Shell (Anglo-Dutch)
  • Statoil (Norway)
  • Repsol (Spain)
  • Anadarko (US)
  • Chevron (US)
  • ExxonMobil (US)
  • ONGC Videsh (India)

About 38 companies pre-qualified as non-operators. They are:

  • Santos (Australia)
  • OMV (Austria)
  • Suncor (Canada)
  • INA (Croatia)
  • GDF-Suez (Engie) (France)
  • MOL Group (Hungary)
  • Petroceltic (Ireland)
  • Edison (Italy)
  • JAPEX (Japan)
  • JX Nippon (Japan)
  • Mitsui (Japan)
  • KNOC (South Korea)
  • KOGAS (South Korea)
  • KUFPEC (Kuwait)
  • CC Energy (Lebanon)
  • Rosneft (Russia)
  • PTT (Australia)
  • TPAO (Turkey)
  • Crescent-Apex Gas (UAE)
  • Crescent Petroleum (UAE)
  • Dana Gas (UAE)
  • Dragon Oil (UAE)
  • Mubadala (UAE)
  • Cairn Energy (UK)
  • Cairn India (India)
  • Dana Petroleum (UK)
  • Genel Energy (UK)
  • Heritage Oil (Canada)
  • SOCO (UK)
  • Geopark-Petroleb (Colombia-Lebanon)
  • Marathon (US)
  • Lukoil (Russia)
  • Sapurakencana Energy (Malaysia)
  • Sonatrach (Algeria)
  • Qatar Petroleum (Qatar)
  • Petropars (Iran)
  • Novatek (Russia)
  • New Age African Global Energy (UK)

Companies are required to form a consortium with one operator and two non-operators and have until 15 September to submit their bids. Evaluation of bids has been scheduled to begin on 16 October with production agreements expected to be signed on 15 November, according to the LPA.

Lebanon is estimated to have around 96 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 865 million barrels of oil offshore in waters shared with Israel, Cyprus and Syria.

The relaunch of its bid round has caused concern in Israel, which claims some of the offshore territories. Block 8 in particular, which has the highest potential for oil and gas discoveries, falls under disputed territory.

The Israeli government is currently pushing for a maritime areas law that aims to establish its sovereignty over the disputed territory.

The political dispute could overshadow Lebanon’s efforts to develop the blocks at a time when it critically needs revenues to bolster its economy squeezed by the spill over of conflict in neighbouring Syria.

Lebanon has yet to prepare a petroleum tax law to help exploit oil and gas reserves offshore.

Meanwhile, exploration for oil and gas in the eastern Mediterranean has been gathering pace. Qatar Petroleum and ExxonMobil, which were awarded the contract for Cyprus’ Block 10 last year are set to drill for oil and gas off the southern coast of the island in 2018.