Country moves to establish good governance before significant production
On 25 January 2017, Lebanon announced its intention to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) with the aim of providing transparency and good governance in preparation for their first oil and gas licensing round. Speaking at a news conference, Minister of Energy and Water, Cesar Abou Khalil, said: ‘At the beginning of the new term, transparency is our main focus’. In addition to joining the EITI, the government has taken a number of steps to promote transparency in the extractive sector, including a draft oil and gas transparency law and the preparation of a public register of licence holders.
The announcement coincided with the release of Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI), where Lebanon was ranked 136 out of 176 countries. Lebanon has scored consistently low on the CPI since 2012, highlighting the high perception of corruption in the country. The potential for substantial revenues in the next few years has highlighted the need to avoid corruption and conflicts of interest. By bringing together all key stakeholders, EITI can be a platform for open discussion about how to inform and discuss challenges and reforms in the sector.
Jonas Moberg, head of the EITI International Secretariat, said:
“It is excellent that Lebanon has decided to use the EITI Standard to help ensure that the energy sector is transparent from the beginning. Commitments to good governance should help attract sound investments and make sure that oil and gas production brings benefits for all Lebanese".
In announcing Lebanon’s intention to implement the EITI Standard, the Government of Lebanon also appointed Minister of Energy and Water Cesar Abi Khalil to lead the implementation of the EITI. The government now will invite stakeholders to establish an EITI multi-stakeholder group made up of representatives from government, extractive companies and civil society to oversee EITI implementation.
According to Walid Nasr of the Lebanon Petroleum Administration,
“the participatory and consensus seeking nature of EITI Multi-stakeholder groups will help Lebanese society continue to agree on important issues concerning the development of the sector through dialogue and discussion”.
The EITI Standard covers all stages along the extractive industry value chain, and one of the first tasks of the multi-stakeholder group will be to develop a work plan to map out how Lebanon will meet the EITI requirements in the next few years. Building on the efforts of the Lebanon Petroleum Administration and support from the Norwegian Oil for Development Programme, exploring how to embed EITI reporting and data verification procedures into government systems is expected to be key at this stage of Lebanon’s development of the sector. The EITI International Secretariat will provide advice and support.