The Exploration Plans approval for blocks 4 and 9 marks the start of the exploration phase that is divided into two periods. Several milestones need to be achieved during the course of each period.

Drilling activities are scheduled to take place in a frontier and unexplored area requiring extensive technical know-how.

The preparatory tasks required before drilling include performing additional geology and geophysical studies, HSE assessments, permitting activities, procurement and contracts, and logistics base set up to name a few.

Right Holders' Entry Plan Mission

In June 2018, the Right Holder Operator undertook an Entry Plan Mission in the objective to assess the availability of logistics in relation to the supply base, to evaluate the permitting and regulatory compliance, to obtain the required approvals for helicopter use, and to develop the applicable custom duties and processes for operations.

Onsite surveys and audits have been conducted and resulted in the selection of Port of Beirut as the location where the supply base will be established to support the petroleum activities that will take place.

Geology & Geophysical studies and data reprocessing

In addition to the preparatory work that the consortium has already prepared as part of the bidding process, the Exploration Plans for Block 4 and 9 stipulated that the consortium would undertake detailed geological and geophysical studies in order to identify the optimal location of the first well.

For this reason, the consortium conducted a data reprocessing activity to better visualize the seismic surveys in order to reduce the risk associated with drilling and to identify the location of the first drilling. Additionally, the reprocessing permitted the consortium to prepare preliminary evaluation of the volumes of resources that might be available in the targeted prospects.

The studies performed constituted a major milestone in increasing the geological understanding and maturing the identified prospects to reach the drilling phase.

Health, Safety and Environmental related studies

In order to obtain a drilling permit the consortium needs to undertake studies in relation to Health, Safety and Environmental related matters.

These studies include the Environmental and Social Baseline Study (ESBS) and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

The ESBS study’s objective is to gather environmental information on the pre-existing conditions in blocks 4 and 9 ahead of drilling activities. The ESBS is a main component of the Application of Drilling Program (ADP), which requires the Minister of Energy and Water’s approval.

The EIA is an assessment and planning tool in which the ESBS feeds and that analyses the environmental and social impacts of individual projects, providing alternatives as well as mitigation measures to reduce these impacts. Under the OPRL and the PAR, Right Holders are required to submit specific EIAs at multiple stages throughout petroleum activities.

The consortium initiated the ESBS in February 2019 and mobilized a vessel to collect sample data. The surveys consist of seawater and seabed sediments samplings. A comprehensive study followed and was completed to determine the level of functional integrity for the biodiversity and ecosystems of blocks 4 and 9.

The Right Holder Operator submitted the EIA screening application for Exploration Drilling Activities in Block 4 in May 2018 and prepared a draft scoping report which was published online for public consultations from May 3 until June 2, 2019. The LPA reviewed the published draft scoping report which was subsequently resubmitted to the LPA and the Ministry of Environment in June 2019. Currently the Right Holder Operator is preparing the EIA report that will be followed by a public consultation.

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