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French energy company Total has anchored a drilling vessel off the coast of Lebanon, set to drill the first exploration well in the country’s waters.

The Times of Israel reported the Tungsten Explorer drilling vessel reached the country’s exclusive economic zone on Tuesday. It will drill a well in Block 4, situated around 30km offshore from the capital Beirut.

Drilling is expected to last two months and will begin 1.5km below sea level. The well intends to explore targets over 2.5km below the sea bed.

Total’s Lebanon chief Ricardo Darre said: “Total is pleased to start exploration operations on Block 4, which is the first deepwater exploration well in Lebanon.”

A major oil and gas discovery will reduce Lebanon’s debt, which is 1.5 times its GDP, and create jobs in the energy sector.

In 2018, Lebanon signed exploration and production agreements with a consortium of companies made up of Total, Eni and Novatek for two offshore blocks, 4 and 9.

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By GlobalData

The licenses were awarded as part of the first offshore licensing round, launched by the Lebanese government in 2017.

Both blocks are located in water depthsof between 1,400m and 1,800m. While Block 4 is in central Lebanon, Block 9 is near the Israeli border.

Drilling on Block 4 was initially planned to start in December 2019. No specific date has been announced for the exploration of Block 9, as Israel claims it belongs to the Jewish state.