President of the Republic General Michel Aoun launched the work of Tungsten Explorer of Total Company which will undertake the oil-drilling process in Block No. 4 in the presence of Prime Minister Dr. Hassan Diab and Energy Minister Raymond Ghajar.

Directors of Total Company and the Chairman of the Petroleum Sector Management Authority Mr. Walid Nasr Head of the Middle East and Africa for Total Stephane Michel General Manager of Novatek Lebanon Slava Mishin Director of Exploration in Eni Andrea Cozzi and a number of officials of the three foreign companies also attended.

President Aoun:

President Aoun said:

I am happy to be with you on this occasion and there is no doubt that the effort exerted in the poll and the disclosure of the presence of gas or petroleum resources was very important but the most important today are the companies which carry out the extraction which is the basis. We have all cooperated and worked to extract these materials. From here today is a happy day for us and for all the Lebanese. We hope that this dream which we dreamed of and worked to achieve will be fulfilled. Today is a historic day and thebeginning of any major project is a historic beginning.

Then the President thanked Total ENI and Novatec companies wishing that there would be cooperation with these companies in other fields in the exclusive Lebanese economic zone.

PM Diab:

Afterwards Prime Minister Hassan Diab delivered the following speech:

From the midst of darkness a large skylight will open today widening the circle of hope for Lebanon to overcome the severe economic crisis which tightens the noose on the financial and social reality of the Lebanese. It is a historic day when we start drilling in the sea to turn Lebanon to an oil country so that we can dig the new Lebanese future. We want Lebanon to return prosperous full of life as it has always been and pumps hope in the days and years to come revives future generations folds pages of frustration and constitutes a station which transforms Lebanons economic identity and spreads across the sea towards the world as the Phoenicians did and stretches in righteousness in its Arab depth.Lebanon will return to the beacon of the East and the link between the Arabs and the world. This is a day that history will remember and will be the turning point in breaking the stereotypes of the Lebanese economy and building stable pillars for the future of generations and the country. The Lebanese are looking to this station as a big window from which to express outside frustration and fear for the future.

Congratulations to Lebanon for the first handful of sand which will emerge from the pit of hope in the sea to destroy on land the crises that hold Lebanese breaths.

Speech of Nasr:

We started work in 2013 and launched the first session of licenses then we prepared the necessary laws and decrees but we cannot but go back and launch the licensing cycle which is required in Block 4 and 9. We started working with these companies in the first exploration plan approved by the authority of the Ministry of Energy and all administrative preparations licenses and logistical matters were completed until we were able to reach this day. The Petroleum Authority has carried out all the tasks it had to do and there has been great cooperation from all ministries and relevant authorities and we would like to thank them for that. Today we are at the well site and just above it and drilling will take place after two days to reach 4100 meters of depth. There will be representatives of the commission the Lebanese Army General Security and customs on the ship in order to continue the excavation work on a daily basis.

Total will also submit a daily report to the Petroleum Authority on the drilling process how it is completed and its results. Of course we will inform the Minister who will in turn inform you of all results daily hoping that the results will be positive. We conducted a complete geological survey of the entire Lebanese sea but this survey is confirmed through this well. The data room of the Energy Ministry has become fully equipped with all the data and programs and we will do our work in the coming months to keep up with the company at work. And God willing the result will be positive in order to dig future wells in Block 4 and the same preparations for Block 9 will be done.

Information About the Ship:

The Tungsten Explorer built in 2013 carries the Bahamas flag and can hold up to 200 individuals.

It is owned by the US company Houston-based Vantage Drilling.

It was chartered by Total to carry out drilling operations and used a group of Lebanese to carry out these works.

It is 238 Meters long 42 Meters Wide and has a total weight of 68486 tons and can dig up to a depth of 12000 Meters.

The ship did drilling work in various countries while it was in the Congo before moving to Egypt and from there to Lebanon where it will stay for about two months before moving to Cyprus.

Source: National News Agency