Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for Petroleum Activities in Lebanese Waters
The Lebanese Government has launched the first licensing round for offshore exploration and production in the Lebanese waters. In preparation for this and future rounds and to ensure that negative impacts are controlled and minimized and that benefits are maximized, the Government of Lebanon had carried out a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) through an international consultant for the Offshore Petroleum Sector in Lebanon in 2012 in compliance with the requirements of Law 132/2010 (Offshore Petroleum Resources Law).
The SEA report evaluated the likely environmental and social effects of introducing and developing oil and gas activities in Lebanon. To date Lebanon has not had an oil and gas industry. However, the SEA considered different potential development scenarios and assumptions during the assessment. Those scenarios and assumptions are preliminary and might be further defined and elaborated in the future which would require an update of the study.
The SEA report extends its focus to the likely results of the licensing program, including exploratory and production drilling, processing and transportation. This SEA has initiated a process of assessment and management that is ongoing. The report helps in informing ministerial decisions through consideration of the environmental and social implications of the proposed actions. It is a means of striking a balance between promoting economic development of offshore energy resources and effective environmental and community protection. The individual operators acquiring the petroleum rights will be contractually committed, amongst other requirements, to providing Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) in sufficient detail to identify their location and project specific impact assessments and full baseline studies before carrying any activities.
The SEA has identified a number of recommendations to form an action plan for the next phases of work. The Lebanese Petroleum Administration (LPA) has initiated several projects in line with the suggested recommendations including cooperation programs with international agencies such as the Norwegian Oil for Development (OfD) Program and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) addressing topics related, but not limited, to:
• Coordination and streamlining of processes between concerned parties,
• Development of sector specific Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) legislation, guidelines and standards,
• HSE baseline data management,
• Emergency preparedness, response and contingency planning,
• Technical support, training and capacity building,
• Awareness raising and public outreach.
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