The Lebanese Oil and Gas sector is once again making the headlines. Over the past few weeks, excitement has built in anticipation of a political agreement that would contribute to clearing the obstacles the nascent sector has suffered from since 2013. Though this enthusiasm must be tempered before a final deal is indeed reached, Kamsyn seized the opportunity to talk about the sector with Mona Sukkarieh, co-founder of Middle East Strategic Perspectives (MESP), and in particular MESP’s latest initiative: The Beirut Energy Club.
There was an initial hype in July after a number of political developments suggested the oil and gas sector might be overcoming the many obstacles it ran into the past couple of years. Do you share the enthusiasm?
I think you are referring to the deal between Speaker Nabih Berri (and head of the Amal movement) and Foreign Affairs Minister Gebran Bassil (and head of the Free Patriotic Movement). This is certainly a positive sign. It is necessary, but on its own, it is not enough. It should be perceived as a preliminary deal, laying the ground for a broader, national deal. Once this is achieved, we can move forward with the oil and gas file.
In the meantime, MESP continues to work on the sector and, on the sidelines, it is preparing to launch the Beirut Energy Club. Could you tell us more about it?
The Beirut Energy Club is an informal forum bringing together energy professionals, from Lebanon and abroad, to engage with leading experts, share experience and connect with peers in a stimulating environment.
The objective is to provide a platform for a rational debate on the oil and gas sector. I stress on the word ‘rational’ because, as a result of the hype surrounding the nascent sector, the current debate suffers from certain misconceptions and people are easily overwhelmed with the load of information provided by virtually everybody, be it the media, politicians, political analysts etc.
Our aim is to:
- Connect professionals who have an interest in and/or are working on the emerging oil and gas sector in Lebanon and the Eastern Mediterranean.
- Brainstorm with leading experts and exchange ideas.
- Facilitate knowledge exchange.
- Provide a space for networking and sharing experience.
The discussions are held under the Chatham House rule.
That’s correct. By definition, the Chatham House Rule encourages open discussions and the sharing of information. It encourages participants to express views they might otherwise not share if they knew their comments would be made public. To avoid misconceptions, it’s important to recall the definition of the rule: When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.
What is the profile of members you are targeting?
The Club is open to professionals associated with the oil and gas and energy industry, in addition to ancillary activities, including experts, corporate officials, government representatives, diplomatic corps and members of civil society organizations.
*Middle East Strategic Perspectives
MESP is a political risk consultancy focusing on strategic sectors in the MENA region. It is a pioneer in offering consultancy services covering the emerging oil and gas sector in Lebanon and the Eastern Mediterranean. MESP provides companies, public sector institutions and other stakeholders interested in the emerging oil and gas sector in Lebanon and the wider Eastern Mediterranean with the strategic insight needed to give them a competitive advantage in a complex and continuously evolving environment.
The MESP Oil & Gas page http://www.mesp.me/category/oilgasupdates offers a preliminary insight into MESP analysis. MESP also uses this platform to help set the framework for a rational and reliable debate on oil & gas in a country, and a region, that is finding it difficult to manage expectations and is struggling to develop an accurate reading grid.
Follow MESP on twitter @mestrate
Kamsyn, August 2016