Exploring the reality of the oil and gas sector in Lebanon

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On May 30, the Order of Engineers in Lebanon, Tripoli chapter, hosted its first oil and gas conference entitled “Oil and Gas in Lebanon: Between reality and Dream”.

The conference comes at a time when Lebanon’s nascent extractive industry sector is in limbo waiting for two important decrees to be issued that will kick-start the licensing round, namely, the decree pertaining to block delineation and the other concerning the Exploration Production Agreement (EPA). The EPA includes the specific fiscal terms that will govern the agreement between the extractive companies and the Lebanese government.

Speakers during the one day conference, that hosted nearly 100 participants, ranged from government officials, represented by the Minister of Energy himself, members from the Lebanese Petroleum Administration, in addition to members of the civil society oversight body represented by the media, environmentalists, lawyers and governance experts.

As Publish What You Pay, our role was to shed light on the important role that needs to be played by civil society in Lebanon if the latter is to experience the blessing rather than the curse of its natural resources. Being an integral part of civil society, professional unions and trade unions have a huge responsibility with respect to the proper governance of the natural resources. As outlined by PWYP’s Chain for Change under the first pillar of “Publish why you pay and how you extract”, professional associations need to play an oversight role. Projects should to be monitored by governments and industry but also through independent mechanisms to ensure that any contractual breaches are amended.

With the extractives in Lebanon being a nascent sector, professionals such as engineers are challenged with new areas in which they need to enhance their knowledge and skills. Lebanon’s EPA has local content elements: a gradual increase to having 80% of those being employed by the EI companies to be Lebanese. Lebanon’s Order of Engineers is one of the largest professional unions in Lebanon, including more than 55,000 registered engineers.

These engineers can, as part of a greater civil society, play a huge role in ensuring that all Lebanese citizens benefit from their natural resource wealth through good governance in the sector. Let’s make sure they seize that opportunity and responsibility!

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