Gearing up for a prosperous energy sector in Lebanon
LAU’s petroleum engineering program intends to support the petrochemical industry in the country and region.
As seismic surveys off the Lebanese coast revealed significant offshore energy reserves Lebanon may soon be poised to build a significant oil and gas sector.
“If Lebanese officials seize this opportunity, the country’s energy sector will advance and foreign investment will rise,” says Michel Khoury, coordinator of LAU’s petroleum engineering program, which welcomed its first cohort of students in 2014. “The projected value of oil and gas production is $8 billion in the first year of extraction alone. That’s more than 10 per cent of our current GDP. We could become a potential regional exporter of gas, and enjoy the start of a new era of economic prosperity.”
Graduates of LAU’s pioneering undergraduate program will no doubt fill a large number of the many roles that will open up as a result of the recent discovery. However, indecision on the part of the Lebanese government has delayed the exploration of underwater energy reserves despite interest from many international firms.
“Even in the most vital interests such as exploration for oil and gas resources, Lebanon suffers from a poor institutional framework, a weak business environment, administrative inefficiencies, lack of accountability and political deadlock,” says Khoury.
Meanwhile, Lebanon’s southern neighbor is already securing its export market for natural gas to Jordan, Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, Turkey and possibly the EU. “This will take away great opportunities from Lebanon, which is already facing a dispute over territorial rights at sea with Israel.”
Despite the setbacks and institutional procrastination, students of the petroleum engineering program remain enthusiastic and eager to develop their skills. A well-rounded program, it caters to students who intend to pursue a career in petrochemical industries. These include those involved in the making of plastics, synthetic rubbers, and solvents, which already exist and operate in Lebanon.
The already thriving petroleum industries of neighboring countries also provide ample employment opportunities for LAU graduates. “Many of our engineering graduates are sought after in the Gulf region. This was another incentive for the initiation of our petroleum engineering program,” adds Khoury. “It includes a wide spectrum of courses covering all major tracks in the area, integrating professional, ethical, and environmental considerations, and providing a special emphasis on natural gas, the most dominant type of hydrocarbon fuel in Lebanon.”
For more information on the B.E. Petroleum Engineering visit the LAU website.