The word petroleum is commonly used to refer to crude oil, but it may also refer to other related hydrocarbons such as natural gas. The gaseous, liquid, or solid state of hydrocarbons depends on the type of compounds and the existing conditions of temperature and pressure.
Natural gas is a mixed gaseous hydrocarbon consisting primarily of methane, but could also include carbon dioxide, nitrogen, sulfur, and other impurities in small amount such as Mercury and Helium. Natural gas contains to a lesser extent varying amounts of other higher alkanes such as ethane, propane and butane.
When found underground, condensate is mostly gas, but it condenses into a liquid when pumped to the surface, and when it touches a relatively cooler temperature. Even in liquid, condensate is light and gassy, whereas crude oil is heavier and more viscous. Crude oil can be used to produce products such as gasoline, diesel and various forms of petrochemicals. Condensate can also be used as refinery feedstock and as fuel.
In exploration for oil and gas, seismic surveys are a tool used to understand the geological characteristics of the earth sub-surface from reflected seismic waves. This technology sends soundwaves underground that cause vibrations, which in turn bounce back to the measuring tools at the surface. The data is then interpreted and analyzed to map the areas that could potentially contain hydrocarbons. Seismic surveys can either be three dimensional (3D) or two dimensional (2D). 3D seismic surveys require a higher number of channels per square km, which translates into a more concentrated data per block and a more precise information mapping. As a result, more statistical methods can be applied to a 3D technique across multiple parameters to provide a quantitative interpretation.Both two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) surveys have been conducted in Lebanon.
Resources are estimated volumes associated with undiscovered hydrocarbons. Reserves are quantities of petroleum resources claimed to be commercially recoverable through a detailed evaluation program, involving drilling and associated test work to prove that a deposit of sufficient quantity and quality is present. At the moment, all preliminary estimates in Lebanon are considered resources.
The upstream sector is part of the oil and gas industry involved with finding oil and gas fields and extracting hydrocarbons from the onshore/offshore underground.. Upstream activities include exploration, followed by extraction and production activities. The downstream refers to the commercialization of petroleum products, including operations after the production phase – that is oil refining and retailing, and the distribution of refined products. The Lebanese Petroleum Administration (LPA) deals with the upstream sector..
Studies and recent developments in the Eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea have shown that this area holds significant amounts of hydrocarbon resources, predominantly natural gas. In addition to the East Med discoveries, the analysis of 2D and 3D seismic surveys demonstrates the prospectivity of Lebanon’s offshore and increases the likelihood of finding petroleum resources. The studies model the presence of gas, condensate and oil.
Geological studies, including the interpretation of 2D and 3D seismic data, conducted offshore Lebanon indicate the most likely presence of natural gas offshore Lebanon. However, at this stage we are not in a position to estimate the volumes of resources before the start of exploration activities that are necessary to confirm the resources estimates.
Potential petroleum resources could be present offshore and onshore as is indicated by the interpretation of the onshore airborne survey, by the 2D seismic surveys and by the 2D and 3D offshore seismic data. At this stage, more extensive studies were conducted offshore hence the probability of discovering prospective resources offshore is higher than the onshore. Click here to view the onshore and offshore geophysical surveys.
The area of the maritime waters subject to the Lebanese State jurisdiction is 22,730 Km2. However, there is a buffer zone along the coast with an area of 1,200 km2 where petroleum activities are not allowed. Click here to view the detailed blocks area and seabed depth.
Seven onshore exploratory wells were drilled from 1947 to 1967. These exploration activities failed to find oil or gas in commercial volumes. Gas, bitumen or asphalt were identified in all wells except Tell Znoub, Al Qaa and Aabrine – where drilling had to stop in Aabrine because of technical difficulties. Click here to learn more about these wells.
The first exploration well in the Lebanese waters will be drilled in December 2019 in block 4. Another well will be drilled in block 9 during 2020.
Petroleum activities can be divided into six phases: Reconnaissance/seismic acquisitions (2-5 years); exploration (3-6 years); appraisal (1-2 years); development (1 – 4 years), production (up to 30 years); and abandonment.
Based on the stages of petroleum activities, considerable revenues will only start flowing once petroleum production starts – that is once a commercial discovery is made and the necessary infrastructure is developed.