Gas rig in the Mediterranean
Gas rig in the MediterraneanIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Israel and Cyprus have already found large gas finds in their sections of the Mediterranean, and now it's Lebanon's turn, at least theoretically. In a press conference over the weekend, Lebanese Energy Minister Gebran Bassil said that the country had “at least” 30 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas off its shores.

That figure is similar to the numbers of the combined estimated and proven reserves in the Tamar and Leviathan gas fields off Israel's coast.

However, the estimates are based not on drilling, but on offshore seismic surveys, thus making all of the gas a projected amount. Nevertheless, Bassil was optimistic; the 30 tcf indicated in the surveys is just a small portion of what experts believe will be found. Taking into consideration possible gas finds along the entire coast (not just the southern coast where the 30 tcf is claimed), as well as deep-water finds, Bassil estimated that Lebanon could have as much as 80 tcf. “We’re talking about big commercial quantities,” he said at the news conference.

The finds are independent of Israel's Tamar and Leviathan fields. In the past, Lebanon has attempted to claim at least part of those fields as its own, claiming that parts of the fields are over the international maritime border, in Lebanese waters. Lebanon has also made similar claims on gas off the shores of Cyprus.

Lebanon has invited 46 international exploration companies to participate in a tender to explore its waters for gas and oil.