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University of Balamand > News > Archive > Oil and Gas: Four Years at Least

Oil and Gas: Four Years at Least

In a best case scenario, it will be four years before Lebanon will be producing any oil. This is just the amount of time required from a technical point of view, irrespective of any other political or financial considerations.

That clarification was made by Mr. Samouh Nour, project director of Petrol Invest in a January 21 seminar on the history of oil and gas, their origins and ways to explore them, organized by the Department of Chemical Engineering.

Among the technical challenges posed for the exploitation of oil are accessibility, as well as the porosity and permeability of the rock structures where the oil is found. “If there is no porosity, it’s a problem. If I don’t have permeability, oil will not flow to the well and this means that we will need to create artificial permeability,” explained Mr. Nour.

Petroleum , he explains, found in sedimentary rock takes millions of years to form. “As rock particles accumulate into layers, they pile up microscopic plant and animal remains, trapping them in the sediment. It then undergoes tremendous heat and pressure. This process generates petroleum”. 

Contrary to popular perception, said Mr. Nour, “there are no lakes of oil.” Petroleum does not exist within self contained lakes. What exits are rocks where oil is imprisoned inside.” These rock reservoirs of oil can be found offshore or onshore, and in the case of Lebanon, the greater oil reserves appear to be at good distance from the shore. According to Energy Minister Gibran Bassil, buried offshore in the country’s section o​f the Mediterranean are 96 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 850m barrels of oil, enough oil to totally alleviate Lebanon’s economic woes.

However, cautions Mr. Nour, nothing can be considered as confirmed, although, he added, that "technology has allowed for a remarkable increase in the success rate of locating natural gas reservoirs. Geologists supported by geophysicists use special equipment to read what is inside the rocks, in order to shorten the list where oil can be explored.”

Still, he continued "even after all the geological and geophysical studies, it remains unclear whether there is oil or not; to be certain you have to go through with the drilling.” That is, explained Mr. Nour, why in the oil industry, there are exploration campaigns "to make sure that studies are confirmed." And drilling, he pointed out, is a very expensive exercise.

Nevertheless, Mr. Nour was optimistic. Since Israel's and Cyprus' offshore oil fields have the same geological formation as those of Lebanon, he said, and both were able to produce oil, then Lebanon is very likely to be able to do so too.

At the end of his presentation, Mr. Nour commended the University for being among the region's pioneers in the study of Chemical Engineering with the dedication of its new Maroun Semaan Chemical Engineering building. ​​​​​
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