The Strategic Importance of the Gas and Oil Wealth in Lebanon
By Dr. Mahmoud Gibaiee
Beirut – Lebanon’s oil wealth, especially natural gas, has received a considerable attention recently, notably after the severe economic and financial crisis Lebanon has been going through on all levels and in the absence of any real forthcoming solution. The hopes of most of the Lebanese has become linked to fulfilling the dream of extracting oil wealth as soon as possible, in order to lift Lebanon out of its financial crisis, so that their daily life improves along with the future of a generation seeking immigration to any country that provides it with the minimum standard of decent living. Nevertheless, most Lebanese feel that is no immediate solution to the issue of exploiting the oil wealth due to American pressures on the issue of the maritime borders with the "Israeli" enemy on one hand, and the reluctance of Lebanese politicians and their identification with the American policies on the other hand.
Estimations of the Lebanese Oil Wealth
Lebanese gas and oil wealth is huge, as they are estimated at 96 trillion cubic feet and 900 million barrels respectively, which gives nearly 600 billion dollars as gas revenues and 450 billion dollars as oil revenues. If used properly, these revenues would move the developmental process forward in all the economic, financial, monetary, social, and living domains as they will create jobs and provide monthly wages that would satisfy the needs of most Lebanese.
Positive Results of Oil Wealth Exploitation
Lebanese oil wealth exploitation as soon as possible will have a major positive impact on various economic and social levels; in addition to psychological impact on most Lebanese since such exploitation constitute a glimmer of hope in Lebanon's future. The main positive effects can be summarized as follows:
1- Providing huge monetary revenues that limit the public debt and the public budget deficit.
2- Improving the Lebanese government's capacity of public spending on wages and salaries and on social and health provisions.
3- Increasing the investment index and the productivity index which will increase the average of the gross domestic product, leading to an increase of growth rates that could reach more than 5% annually.
4- A positive direct impact on the gross domestic income, leading to an increase in the individual income, thus increasing the purchasing power and the standard of living of the Lebanese people.
5- Increasing the average of the gross domestic product which will create high economic development rates that put an end to the economic recession affecting Lebanon since many years.
6- Decreasing the need to import, and increasing the reliance on the local production, thus leading to a decreased deficit in the trade balance.
7- Enhancing the productive economy through agriculture and industry which will lead to a sustainable economic growth.
8- Decrease in unemployment rates due to the increase of investments and job opportunities.
9- Improving the exchange rate of the national currency thanks to the provision of the foreign capitals once again leading to a monetary balance.
10- Integrating Lebanon into the club of oil-producing countries which will enhance its credit rating and make it a highly trusted country, thus leading to a positive impact on all the levels.
Oil wealth is a major economic and living blessing for the countries in which it is located, as is the case of Lebanon provided that this wealth is exploited quickly and accurately. Lebanon is going through the most difficult economic, monetary, and living crises. Therefore, people and parties concerned should take strategic decisions that are in the interest of Lebanon without taking into consideration the interests of other countries that are trying to practice pressure on Lebanon to attain politic earnings through tightening the economic grip on it.
Such countries know that preventing Lebanon from exploiting its oil wealth will let it resort to the International Monetary Fund [IMF], thus putting it under its mercy economically and financially. So today, we should take a bold decision that obliges these countries to speed up the process of exploration within the Lebanese borders. What we mean by this decision is accepting the Iranian offers according to what the Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah announced, by being ready to recruit Iranian companies that have a great expertise in the exploration processes, and thus breaking the silence imposed by the US and its allies on the exploration of the Lebanese oil wealth.