04 July 2010

* Lebanon Moves To Pass Hydrocarbon Law

Noble’s announcement of the Leviathan prospect and its plans to drill later this year have provoked a number of claims from Lebanon that the field extends into its offshore territory and has prompted the Lebanese government to fast track a new hydrocarbon law so that it might prepare to begin offshore exploration work of its own. In recent weeks belligerent statements have been exchanged between Israel and Lebanon. 
Commenting on the Lebanese parliament’s interest in passing a hydrocarbon law quickly, Jubran Basil, the country’s Energy and Water Minister, said on 28 June: “We need to approve this quickly so we don’t lose time,” adding: “We will protect our rights with all our strength.” Earlier Israeli Minister of National Infrastructures Uzi Landau had warned Beirut that Israel would use force to protect “the rule of law…and international maritime law,”. Offshore boundaries between Israel and Lebanon – as well as Israel and Cyprus – have yet to be determined, but relations between Cyprus and Israel are friendly. The Leviathan prospect is 130km west‐northwest of Haifa and is reported to lie close to Cypriot waters. Seismic acquisition in Cypriot and Lebanese water is being carried out by Norway’s Petroleum Geo‐
Services (PGS).

A paper prepared by PGS staff and posted on the internet in May 2009 said high‐quality 3D data show “several attractive large sub‐salt four‐way dip closures and new stratigraphic plays offshore Cyprus and Lebanon.” It added that “numerous DHI’s [direct hydrocarbon indicators] associated with the prospects indicate several active petroleum systems and reduce the exploration risk in this frontier region.” The US Geological Survey stated in a recent report that the Levant Basin in the East Mediterranean holds potential reserves of 1.7bn barrels of recoverable crude oil and 122 tcf (3.4 tcm) of recoverable natural gas. Most of those potential reserves lie in deep water.


Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.