Oil and Gas Forum: Lebanon facing current geopolitical developments.
Continuing their Congress Organizing activity on oil wealth to Lebanon - the previous congress took place at Haygazian University in April 2015 -"Front PageCommunication" and the party of the "National Dialogue" organized this year their third conference entitled "Oil and Gas Forum, Lebanon facing current geopolitical issues."
The Congress was held in the presence of H.E. Arthur Nazarian, Minister of Energy and Water, H.E. Mr. Michel Pharaon Minister of Tourism and the Deputy of US Secretary of State for Energy, Oil and Gas, Mr. Amos Hochstein, the President of the Board of the Authority of Energy and oil to Lebanon Mr. WissamZahabi and Mr. Fouad Makhzoumi, famous businessman. This conference also counted with the participation of many representatives of major oil companies and international experts from the gas and oil in Arab countries, Europe and the United States.
The objective of this day of exchange that took place at the EcoleSupérieure des Affaires (ESA) was to focus on the key elements of the oil sector: its role in improving the local economy, developments in Lebanon and other countries, its contribution to job creation and the reduction of the energy bill. Not to mention the study of risks related to petroleum activities and the study of funding means that this sector requires.
After listening to the national anthem, the Managing Director of "ESA", Mr.StéphaneAttali, delivered a welcoming speech. He stressed that this third edition, which, for him, is a clear proof of perseverance, must insist on geographical issues related to the oil and gas and that in order to do this, it is important to gather all parties involved in this field, such as business, non-governmental organizations but also local and international institutions around general discussions but also related to the jobs of the future.
Then, the Executive Director of "Front Page Communication" Mr. Mustafa Asaad, took the floor to explain that his company has during these three years, through various initiatives, given way to study the facts, conflicts and complexities generated by this industry. This access has been made possible through the establishment of a platform which allowed to answer questions and find solutions to problems relating to the oil and gas. He recalled that over the previous two Forums, his company had organized other lectures at the University of La Sagesse as well as Haigazian University. His company has also organized meetings with young students interested in integrating the networks of this sector to be prepared to play a significant role in the future.
Mr. Makhzoumi began by wondering: why I started this project at a delicate moment in an atmosphere of great change and regional readjustments, in an age of inefficiency of the Constitution and the Lebanese democratic political system? He continued by saying that "what we seek in this Forum is to learn from our experiences in order to establish a system that allows us to move forward with certainty once we start to operate and extract oil, but also to benefit future generations. Such cooperation is intended to give our young people hope and the desire to stay in their country. Therefore, I suggest that the civil society forms pressure groups able to say to our politicians: "Here are our decisions, if you do not share them with us, you are asked to leave."
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H.E. Mr. Arthur Nazarian
For his part, Mr. Nazarian said: "One year after the previous conference on oil and gas, we hoped, today, to get across both decrees blocked in the Council of Ministers because we are condemned to optimism. "He added:" in the recent years we have worked with the oil industry on the building and development of human resources in order to continue the exploration and implementation of strategies and plans in order to avoid failures and dangers. "
Mr. Nazarian held that "sustainable development must be a priority for the government that already faces many problems like that of refugees," he stressed that "the oil sector should get more support from the Lebanese citizens and the diaspora."
This sector he continues, is "a unique opportunity to strengthen the economic system and to use these sustainable resources, reducing the cost of electricity bills, realizing additional revenues, creating jobs for young people in small and medium enterprises and encouraging export."
Mr. Nazarian said that "this revenue will develop infrastructure, improve the tax classification of Lebanon and increase investment" He concluded by saying: "Our gaze is turned towards the future positively, and we must be aware that there are many challenges ahead, however, the ministry is determined to transform these challenges into sustainable economic development."
Mr. Amos Hochstein
Mr. Hochstein began his speech as follows: "I came today to tell you that in the midst of the energy revolution in the area, I am sure that in the coming years, the way we will carry on the revolution will be that of a transformation in the field of energy, "adding," So far, there are few things that have occurred in this area since 2012, because any change needs time."
He then started talking about renewable energy and gas, stating that, "over the last decade, the oil and gas sector has multiplied by six," citing the example of Qatar, who "was in the past, the only country in the world as exporter of liquefied natural gas in large quantities." However, he added that the aim of the United States in this field now is to get better by the year 2020 and that Saudi Arabia plans to increase its production of oil and gas by 10% per year. "
Hoping that the price of oil and gas can evolve in the coming years, and that we can talk more about renewable energy, Mr. Hochstein continued by saying that "the interesting thing is that the States which imported 60% of their needs in oil and gas, have now revolutionized their energy sector since they began investing solar power, gas, oil and human resources."
He considered that "the discovery of oil and gas was not a monopoly, it was not limited to a few countries, such as Russia, Qatar, Kuwait, or the United States, for example, and that every country has the right to extract and exploit its resources."
Mr. Hochstein wondered: "What we must do to move forward in this area," he answered his own question: "We need a modern infrastructure and we must try attract new investments in Lebanon."
Addressing the issue of the dangers of oil and gas, he declared: "There are two types of risk: underground risks that are static, and the apparent risks that can be avoided by good infrastructure, a better legal system, better tax and the decision to work hand in hand. "
He concluded, "We should try to find a solution to the disputed area to take advantage of internal opportunities and modernize the energy sector, as the Middle East region is not yet sufficiently explored and exploited."
After these four interventions, six sessions of discussions and dialogue followed, each on a specific topic and in the following order:
The session revolved around the development of the Oil and gas sector in the Middle East and Europe. Y took part, the vice president of the Italian company "Eni" Mr. LapoPistelli, vice president of the French company "Total". Mr. Elias Kassis and the Chairman of the Board of the Authority of the Petroleum Energy Lebanon Mr. WissamZahabi. It is the vice president of the bank "Pharaoh and Shiha" doctor Marwan Iskandar who was the moderator of this session. Participants stressed that in 2020, natural gas will occupy a fundamental place flowing abundantly in the markets, as confirmed by the current decline in oil prices asenergy represents an unstable value.
Attended the meeting, Vice Minister of Mining and Geological Research in Montenegro H.E. Mr. VladanDubljevic, Executive Committee member and the responsible for European and international relations at "Engie" Mr. Denis Simonneau, and as moderator ofthe session, Dr. Nasser Hoteit of the petroleum Directorate.
Participants recalled the developments in the oil and gas sector in Lebanon and Cyprus, the transparency standards adopted in Lebanon, able to encourage international companies to invest.
Experience of treatment of oil and gas in Montenegro was presented to participants.
Several celebrities have spoken. Among them were the great strategic analyst at "Engie" Mr. Jean-Baptiste Dubreuil, the eminent businessman Mr. Fuad Makhzoumi, the director of "Energy Crystol" Dr. Carole Nakhle, economics professor at the University of Paris - Dauphine, Mr. Patrice Geoffron and Mr. Jean-Paul SabbaghProfessor of Political Sciences-University of Paris. Participants reviewed the causes of oil price fall and the consequences of the lifting of sanctions imposed on Iran. They discussed the impact of the recession that has reached the price of the oil industry leading to dissuade companies from investing in Lebanon.
It is the expert in economics from several institutions, governments and the private sector, Dr. Toufic Gaspard who led the meeting with the former Minister of Finance, H. E. Dr. Georges Corm and the administrative partner at "Lazard Frères" Mr. François Khayat. The speakers discussed how to finance the oil and gas sector in the course of current events. Emphasis was placed on the need to identify Lebanon funding issues because the cost can be excessive, and can result in reduced state revenues.
Mr. Rayan Kouatly, partner and director of "Kouatly& Associates Attorneys' led this session attended by the Deputy Executive Director and member of CCAMLR" Future Pipe Group "Mr. ImadMakhzoumi, Dr. Valerie Marcel, member of the Think tank research in "Chatham House", and the responsible for the law course at the Faculty of law at Saint Joseph University, also Doctor. Nathalie Carpenter of the University Paris II. Participants presented solutions that can be followed to ensure effective oil and gas contracts, the best way to attract long-term investors would be to regain the confidence of Lebanese citizens and to create national institutions to participate in investments in this sector.
At the end of the Forum, the following recommendations were agreed upon:
The Forum concluded with a series of recommendations which can be summarized in six points:
1. Urge the Cabinet to approve projects of the two decrees applied, namely:
a. The project on exploration and production agreement
b. The specifications and the decree concerning the delimitation of maritime blocks
2. Approval of the tax law relating to petroleum activities
3. Adoption of a progressive license policy for maritime blocks
4. Make public contracts and increase transparency
5. Evaluation of the natural gas market needs to become a major source of electricity generation. Use of renewable energy.
6. Adhesion of Lebanon to the Extractive Industries Transparency World Initiative (EITI).