Wheels in motion to pick rig for drilling in Mediterranean waters

Wheels in motion to pick rig for drilling in Mediterranean waters

Oil majors TotalEnergies and Eni have embarked on a rig selection process for exploration activities in an offshore block located in the Lebanese waters.

Illustration; Source: TotalEnergies

Following the settlement of a dispute between Lebanon and Israel over an allegedly gas-rich area in the Mediterranean, covering 860 square kilometres (330 square miles), international oil and gas companies will now have the option to explore natural gas plays in previously-contested waters. This is expected to lead to more energy exports, especially to Europe, bolstering its energy security in the coming years.

After the agreement on the maritime border line between Israel and Lebanon was sorted out, France’s TotalEnergies signed a framework agreement with Israel, together with Italy’s Eni, to implement the maritime boundary agreement in mid-November 2022.

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In an update on Monday, TotalEnergies announced that its Chairman and CEO, Patrick Pouyanné, and Walid Fayad, Minister of Energy and Water of Lebanon, had discussed the development of the firm’s activities in Lebanon. During the meeting, Pouyanné confirmed that the teams in charge of drilling operations on Block 9 were mobilised. 

Aside from the Operations Manager, more than 10 people are involved in the preparation of the well to date, however, the team mobilised in Beirut is expected to reach more than 20 employees by the end of March 2023.

Furthermore, TotalEnergies highlights that the call for tenders to secure a rig for this drilling assignment has been launched and should lead to a selection of the rig in the first quarter of 2023. In addition, pre-orders have been placed with suppliers for equipment required for the well while offshore resources are being mobilised to contribute to the environmental studies, which will be finalised by the end of June 2023. 

The well is being prepared to achieve the objective of the French giant and Eni to complete the drilling as soon as possible in 2023. TotalEnergies is the operator of Block 9 – situated in the offshore basin of Lebanon, known as the Levantine Basin, in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea – and has a 60 per cent stake in this asset while Eni holds the remaining 40 per cent.

The Block 9 partners are expected to drill an already identified gas prospect – Qana – which lies mostly in the Lebanese territory but could extend into Israeli waters south of the newly established maritime border. If the drilling of this prospect results in a hydrocarbon discovery, both Israel and Lebanon would be entitled to payments, when gas is produced.