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Law for transparency in oil sector published
Energy Ministry to fill in Parliament, Council of Ministers every four months
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Parliament has approved a bill on transparency in the oil and gas sector. The bill specifies the duties of all official and business stakeholders in the sector, from the exploration and production phase until operations are terminated.

The scope of accountability in the law covers public sector personnel, whether officials or employees, operators and non-operators, or any company that contractually provides services or products to these companies.

Right holders are required to declare all information related to their operations within a two-month notice.

All involved official and non-official parties are not allowed to invest directly or indirectly through family members in prequalified companies that are participating in licensing rounds while they are in office and up to three years after they leave.

The ban includes politicians in high positions from the President, Speaker, and Prime Minister to their aides and consultants, as well as members of the Higher Judicial Council and other official authorities.

The law forbids natural and legal entities from accepting offers, commissions, compensation, payments, gifts, or promises to facilitate exploration and production licenses for prequalified companies.

The same goes for primary and secondary contractors: “Anyone who violates this article is punished with temporary incarceration of at least four years and a fine of between two and three times the value of the bribe,” the law said in one of its articles.

The Ministry of Energy and Water (MoEW) is required to publish the standards and conditions used to select companies for the prequalification round, the list of companies that applied for prequalification, and the list of questions and clarifications that were put forth by these companies.

MoEW is required to declare all permits granted to right holders. The Lebanese Petroleum Administration (LPA) is required to reveal all permits given under the Exploration and Production agreement, the appointment of operators, waivers or transfers of rights, information on exploration wells, the coordinates of the blocks for which a petroleum right is granted, fees per company, recovery costs, and production data.

The Ministry of Finance must declare the value of taxes for petroleum activities and area fees. Right holders are required to declare recovery costs, profit petroleum share, production data, royalty fees, sold petroleum quantities and values, quarterly payments, and all operations that will be available in the Petroleum Registry.

MoEW, right holders, and contractors must declare the identity of their employees, and the percentage of local and foreign workers of the overall labor force.

Right holders should guarantee equal opportunities. They should declare available positions, publish results of the hiring process, and implement the employee training program. They must send to Parliament every four months a report that details the employment course.

MoEW and LPA should submit a status report every four months to Parliament and Council of Ministers.

The law also details the establishment of NGOs involved in the transparency process, prosecution circumstances, and the role of the Council for Combating Corruption in ensuring transparency in the sector.
Reported by Yassmine Alieh
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Date Posted: Oct 11, 2018