| 5 December 2023, Tuesday |

Are there political implications for Total’s cessation of exploration?

Total Energies’ announcement surprised everyone that there was no gas in Block 9, and that the company had stopped exploration work through the “Transocean Barents” drilling rig, and left for Cyprus to work in one of its oil fields.

This development did not go unnoticed by all the countries concerned, especially in Lebanon and all the parties who worked on the issue from the beginning of the mission of the Special Presidential Coordinator for global infrastructure and energy security Amos Hochstein until now, including his recent visit to Beirut at the start of the drilling process and praise for the efforts achieved in this field.

But what happened now to achieve this result after the hopes that were pinned internationally on the issue of gas and energy in the Lebanese Sea and how important that was in extricating Lebanon from its dire economic reality? Then how important this major investment is in establishing stability in the south and the region in the foreseeable future.

Informed diplomatic sources explained to Sawt Beirut International that the timing of the announcement of the absence of gas and the timing of departure is an issue related to the political developments that took place in the region and in the south, in the wake of the outbreak of the Gaza war and its causes, and the development of the situation in the south accordingly.

The sources also explained that by knowing the international approach to dealing with the region, it becomes clear that Total’s position falls within the framework of international pressure to achieve certain conditions that the Lebanese side is required to adhere to, and that it constitutes a clear message to Hezbollah that exploration will not continue or be completed if Hezbollah did not stop interfering in the Palestinian situation. For countries, stability in the region is a fundamental issue that must not be compromised, otherwise there will be no exploration.

What was noteworthy was the pressure exerted by Total, which drilled in a certain spot in Block 9, and said that it did not find gas, as it did not move to another spot in the block, but rather said that it had obligations with Cyprus.

The international fear now, according to the sources, is that Hezbollah will return to talking about the previous equation before the agreement on the maritime borders, which is that no Block 9 means no “Karish,” so the equation will be returned to as if the agreement had not occurred.

According to the sources, the matter brings us back to the basic international position, whereby it is absolutely unacceptable for Lebanon to be a platform for transferring fighting and conflict to its borders or across its borders, or for transferring the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to it. The international position is consistent with the positions of other Lebanese parties, who strongly oppose Lebanon paying the cause of wars in the region and the price of conflicts. The costs will come from the lives of citizens first, and from the economy second, as there is no interest in losing oil and gas wealth. What benefit does Lebanon gain from a path like this?


  • Sawt Beirut International