Murky as crude oil

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - OPINION -

One would have thought that the oil and gas wealth that Le­banon is blessed with was a trea­sure owned by the Le­banese and its fu­ture gen­er­a­tions that would help al­le­vi­ate bud­getary deficits while gen­er­at­ing and sus­tain­ing enough wealth to de­velop the coun­try and im­prove the lives of the peo­ple.

Un­for­tu­nately, any rev­e­la­tions on the sub­ject by the en­ergy min­is­ter have re­sem­bled a lec­ture about the dy­nam­ics and me­chan­ics of oil ex­plo­ration as adopted by other oil­pro­duc­ing coun­tries.

More­over, the lec­ture com­pletely skipped the crux of the prob­lem, and in a coun­try like Le­banon gov­erned by po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests, no one short of Agatha Christie’s Her­cules Poirot can un­tan­gle the com­pli­ca­tions that en­sue and put in per­spec­tive the whole pol­icy of oil ex­plo­ration and pro­duc­tion we can ex­pect in the fu­ture.

Be that as it may, there are a num­ber of things the Le­banese need to know and have a right to know, and these in­clude ev­ery el­e­ment of the gov­ern­ment’s pol­icy down to the most minute de­tails, with­out any hid­den ar­ti­cles that could prove detri­men­tal or con­tro­ver­sial in the pur­suit of this in­dus­try.

The magic word here is trans­parency and un­for­tu­nately un­til now all dis­cus­sions lack this at­tribute, a case in point be­ing why only three firms ten­dered bids although nearly 50 rep­utable and ex­pe­ri­enced oil giants have qual­i­fied.

We would also like to know who the par­ties be­hind these con­sor­tiums are, how the blocks were dis­trib­uted and on what ba­sis, as well as clar­ity on ev­ery step taken in the pur­suit of this is­sue, the chal­lenges and the so­lu­tions etc.

And fi­nally, we need to know how this wealth will be dis­persed and the method of over­sight to en­sure that the spoils go to­ward en­hanc­ing the coun­try and the lives of its peo­ple in a sus­tain­able man­ner rather than be­ing di­vided among the usual sus­pects.

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