A consortium led by France’s Total has failed to find commercial quantities of oil or gas with its first offshore well drilled in Lebanese waters, Byblos-1, dealing a blow to hopes that a large discovery could rescue the country’s struggling economy.

The consortium, made up of Total, Italy’s Eni and Russia’s Novatek , drilled the well in Lebanon’s offshore block 4.

Speaking at a press conference, Lebanese Energy Minister Raymond Ghajar said the well had uncovered several small pockets of gas and a ‘petroleum system’, indicating that a larger find may be present elsewhere in Lebanon’s waters.

The consortium is planning to plug the Byblos-1 well during the next two weeks.

Lebanon is in crisis due to the country’s failing economy, and it was hoped that discovering a large deposit of oil or gas could ease financial pressure on the government.

Earlier this week, demonstrators in Lebanon, angered by the plunging currency and soaring prices, clashed with security forces in defiance of a lockdown against the coronavirus pandemic.

Violence erupted on 27 April in the city of Tripoli as angry protesters hurled Molotov cocktails at several banks.

Protests also erupted elsewhere in Lebanon, leaving scores injured and more than a dozen people detained, according to the Lebanese military.

The rallies, which started last October against Lebanon’s ailing economy, have been worsened by the government’s failure to manage corruption and fix its political system, critics say.

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