Lebanon Petroleum Transparency Law
In 2010, the U.S. Geological Survey assessed the undiscovered oil and gas resources of the Levant Basin Province. Following such discoveries, it became compulsory for Lebanon to regulate all stages of the petroleum sector in order to ensure that a country rich in resources not only benefits from them but also avoids the resource curse.
Indeed, in 1711, The Spectator wrote "It is generally observed, that in countries of the greatest plenty there is the poorest living". History has witnessed the collapse of resource rich countries throughout the years due to the mismanagement and the corruption governing the natural resource sector. The oil and gas sector is recognised as one of the fields where corruption thrives given that such sector generates immense revenues and is governed by people entrusted with high power.
The fear of undergoing the resource curse was not the only factor that stimulated a legal framework for the petroleum sector in Lebanon. Indeed, the petroleum sector is primarily dependant on international know-how, workforce and most importantly, funding. Therefore, Lebanon had to present a credible image to international stakeholders in order to attract foreign investment and know how.
All the above contributed to the establishment of a legal framework in the petroleum sector which started with the adoption of the first petroleum-related law, Lebanese Law No. 132/2010 Lebanese Offshore Petroleum Resources Law. Subsequently, other laws, decrees and international initiatives were adopted in Lebanon including Lebanese Law No. 84/2018 Enhancing Transparency in the Petroleum Sector.
Lebanese Law No. 84/2018: A step forward in Lebanon’s fight against corruption
According to Transparency International, there are five key ingredients that prevent corruption from taking place, one of which being promoting transparency and access to information.
Lebanese Law No. 84/2018 was first presented to the parliament in 2016 under the denomination “combatting corruption in the oil and gas sector”.
This tool had been introduced in the Lebanese agenda in 2016 but also and most importantly, when Lebanon announced in January 2017 that it intends to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). Therefore, implementing such standard through a domestic law was one of the necessary remaining steps to prevent corruption in the oil and gas sector.
In addition, and at the international level, Lebanese Law No. 84/2018 is one of several strides taken by the Lebanese authority to reassure the international community of its seriousness in taking action to combat corruption in Lebanon and gain the international community’s trust again. If implemented properly, this law can be a means to enhance relations between the government, civil society, and the private sector.