A consortium led by French energy major TotalEnergies is set to commence drilling for oil and gas offshore Lebanon in the third quarter of 2023.

“The rig will start working in Lebanon in September – before the end of the year we will know if there is a discovery,” Walid Fayyad, the nation’s acting energy minister, was quoted by Reuters as saying on the sidelines of the World Utilities Congress in Abu Dhabi.

The consortium drilling in Block 9 off the coast of Lebanon also consists of QatarEnergy and Italian energy giant Eni.

The consortium is said to have assigned a rig for the offshore southern block.

After years of negotiations facilitated by the US, Lebanon finally defined its maritime border with Israel in October 2022.

The deal ensured that Lebanon, through the TotalEnergies-led consortium, can explore the Kana field and pay royalties to undertake drilling work in parts of Israel’s territory.

Lebanon’s energy minister expressed optimism that a discovery would spur additional investment in Lebanon’s offshore oil and gas industry.

Fayyad added that a potential oil discovery might affect whether a deadline for applications to explore in eight more offshore blocks is once again extended past June.

“I have been hearing from players in the field that they are keen to see the result of the drilling in Block 9 before they make decisions as to further investments or commitments in Lebanon,” Reuters quoted him saying.

“In the end, if we don’t have enough interest and players, we must adapt,” Fayyad stated.

In January this year, QatarEnergy signed agreements with the Government of Lebanon, TotalEnergies and Eni to acquire a 30% working interest in Blocks 4 and 9 while TotalEnergies and Eni each hold a 35% interest.

TotalEnergies serves as the operator for the two blocks.

Situated approximately 80km off the coast of southern Lebanon in water depths of nearly 1,700m, Block 9 has a total area of 1,749km².

Block 4, which is located in water depths of approximately 1,500m, has a total area of 1,911km².