There is increased interest in oil
and gas exploration offshore Lebanon, but the country lags behind
Israel and Cyprus in developing its resources. There has been wide
domestic criticism of the government's slow progress in developing
Lebanon's petroleum resources, as symptomatic of the country's
governance failure. However, in light of the state's weaknesses in
the areas of control of corruption, rule of law and political
stability, an accelerated path to the development of resources
would have involved great risks.
From 2007 to 2012, Lebanon has
gradually established the institutional and legal framework for the
governance of the petroleum sector. Throughout this process,
political parties have struggled to increase their influence over
the sector - for instance in the Council of Ministers' appointment
of members of the regulatory body or the parliamentary approval of
the agreement with Cyprus on maritime boundaries. In the future, it
is likely that further critical decisions will be stalled in the
regulatory body (the Petroleum Administration) and the Council of
Ministers, which memberships reflect the religious segments of
Lebanese society. The political process of building coalitions of
support for each milestone is indeed painstakingly slow, but it
creates consensus around the policy outcome. And thanks to
relatively high state administrative capacity and support from
foreign technical advisors, the government has established an
adequate framework for investment.
The critical weakness in the
Lebanese governance system is rather in the risk of corruption.
Strengthening processes of accountability, improving the disclosure
of information regarding the sector and building capacity in
auditing can alleviate this risk. And civil society can play an
important, positive role in improving accountability by pushing for
public disclosure of financial and operational data and holding
decision makers to account.
full article can be found at
Energy Strategy Reviews (2013).