An estimated 25 trillion cubic feet of natural gas lie beneath Lebanese waters, off the southern coast. Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper valued the reserves at US$300-700 billion. But the process for exploration has been slowed by divisions in parliament. The government is meant to start issuing bids for gas and oil exploration this year, and despite the risks, 40 international companies are reportedly interested. If and when exploration and production gear up, companies will have to set up offices in Tyre, which could be a big job creator, says Walid Khadduri, former director of information and international relations at the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC). “This is the one promise for the south.”
Make a clear plan:
“We are suffering from a lack of a long-term strategic plan for the region,” says Dbouk, the mayor of Tyre. IRIN spoke to three government officials in Beirut at the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Prime Minister’s Office; none had specific development plans for the south. “There is no plan at the government level on this,” says Adnan Nassreddine of the Ministry of Social Affairs. “There is no coordination between all the ministries working on development.” Nor do municipalities always have a clear idea of what they need, with some decisions made by mayors on a whim without statistics or popular input.