On 8 May 2020, the Right Holder Operator completed the drilling campaign of the first exploration well 16/1 in Block 4 to a total depth of 4,076 meters from sea level in water depths of approximately 1,500 meters.
Drilling activities in block 4 commenced with the arrival of the Tungsten Explorer drillship on February 25, 2020. The well crossed the entire Oligo-Miocene target section, which was the main target of this exploration well, and provided valuable data that will be used to evaluate further the hydrocarbon potential offshore Lebanon. Traces of gas were observed confirming the presence of a hydrocarbon system.
Over the coming two months the Right Holder Operator will analyze the data acquired during drilling and will submit the final report to the Minister of Energy and Water and to the Lebanese Petroleum Administration.
It is important to note that the completion of the first exploration well in Block 4 was finalized amid exceptional global and local circumstances including the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic resulting in general mobilization state and a major oil crash.
Nevertheless, the close cooperation and collaboration among Lebanese institutions and the Right Holder Operator helped to overcome these challenges.
In order to allow exploration drilling to continue a number of COVID-19 prevention measures were applied including the following:
- Planned exemption to allow import of oil and gas related equipment;
- Relevant personnel were granted access to the country during national lockdown and cross borders movement ban, while applying strict COVID-19 screening, quarantining and additional preventative measures before being transferred to work site;
- The crew on board of the drillship Tungsten Explorer has been mobilised for an extended period of time sometimes exceeding a month period and sanitary precautionary measures have been strictly applied in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
The first exploration that took place in a frontier, deep water and previously unexplored area was safely concluded with zero reported Lost Time Injuries (LTIs) and zero reported operational accidents.
Good environmental practices were applied in full compliance with the approved Environmental Impact Assessment study. Generated oil contaminated drill cuttings were transferred in various shipments to a licensed facility in Cyprus for treatment and final disposal according to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal. Other wastes produced on board of the drillship were also managed in compliance with set plans.
It is generally known in the industry that the Probability of Success (POS) of hitting a discovery from the first exploration well is less than 30%. Given this context, the exploration well marked a significant milestone that reiterates Lebanon’s commitment to develop its prospective offshore petroleum sector for the benefit of current and future generations, keeping in mind that the oil and gas sector is associated with risks and uncertainties therefore persistent efforts will continue to be exerted to achieve the long term vision of this sector.
Over the coming period, the LPA will closely work with relevant stakeholders including the Right Holder Operator and in collaboration with public institutions to continue the exploration activities in the Lebanese waters. In particular, the LPA will undertake preparatory tasks needed to complete the drilling of the exploration well in Block 9 during the first exploration period as stipulated in the Exploration and Production Agreement and in the Exploration Plan.
These tasks include the performance of additional geology and geophysical studies drawing on the drilling results of Block 4 to determine the well location, the completion of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for exploration activities, the issuance of required permits and the mobilization of the required personnel, material, equipment and services for drilling.