Exclusive interview with Ricardo Khoury, Managing Partner and Head of HSE Division at ELARD Consultancy Group

All stakeholders in the petroleum sector should invest in building a robust safety culture in Lebanon, says Ricardo Khoury, Managing Partner and Head of HSE Division at ELARD Consultancy Group. 

Established in 1996 in Lebanon, ELARD Group has grown to become a leading regional consultancy firm in the areas of environment, HSE and water management throughout the Middle-East, North Africa and the Arab Gulf. It has been actively supporting the sector in Lebanon since its inception. The company has repeatedly expressed its commitment to “deploy its international experience and local resources in Lebanon, as the sector unfolds from planning to exploration and eventually production.”

ELARD is an important sponsor of the 4th Lebanon International Oil & Gas Summit.  The LIOG team discussed with Khoury his company’s perception, future plans and commitment to Lebanon’s oil and gas industry. 

    
How do you evaluate the potential of Lebanon’s petroleum sector? 
The Lebanese government has been working actively on developing this sector for more than 10 years now.  One of the most important and clever steps it has taken is that it has partially de-risked the geological risks of the petroleum activities by conducting 2D and 3D seismic surveys through multi-client agreements with specialized companies. Results of this work have shown very good prospects for discoveries, which are further supported by outcomes in other East-Med countries. The government has also developed the legal framework for the sector and has established what is now an operational and competent entity to manage the offshore sector, the Lebanese Petroleum Administration (LPA). With the right international investors, and the support of the highly-qualified Lebanese Diaspora working in this sector worldwide, I am very optimistic about the potential of Lebanon’s petroleum sector, and more importantly, that the sector can be developed in a sustainable manner.

Do you have any assessment of the required investments in Your SECTOR for this nascent industry? What can drive the growth in investments? 
Environmental investments will not be negligible. Operators need now to undertake environmental surveys to understand the ecological importance of the areas where they will be drilling the first exploration wells and take precautionary measures as needed. There will be investments in environmental technologies and equipment to adequately manage the various waste streams and emissions from petroleum activities.  In-country investments in waste management infrastructure might be needed in the medium to long-term.

What role can your company play in developing the oil and gas sector in Lebanon?
ELARD is probably the only Lebanese company that has significant experience in the oil and gas sector delivering environmental and HSE services to offshore and onshore fields in various countries of the Middle-East, Africa, GCC, Adriatic and the Caspian. With experience working in upstream, midstream and downstream projects, as well as with governments, IOCs, NOCs and major FEED and EPC contractors operating in the region, ELARD offers a great opportunity to achieve local content objectives while delivering services of international quality. With ELARD’s sister company LOGS (Lampion Oil and Gas Services), we also provide upstream technical consultancy services, training in various topics related to the entire value chain of the petroleum sector, as well as equipment and software.

What is the level of awareness for your business? Do you expect an awareness issue and how does Lebanon tend to approach it?
Awareness in environmental, and more importantly in safety aspects, is relatively limited in Lebanon. This is particularly relevant for safety, as Lebanon does not have a culture of major accident prevention, which is a major area of attention in offshore exploration and production activities, especially for deep offshore.  It is important that all stakeholders, from government to private sector, invest in building a robust safety culture in Lebanon.

What are your expectations from your participation in the 4th edition of the Lebanon International Oil and Gas Summit? 
We have participated in all editions of LIOG, since its inception, and have always been very satisfied with our participations. Every time we were offered the opportunity to extensively network with industry stakeholders and to learn from an excellent conference programme. We do not expect any less this time, especially given the new momentum that has built up with the start of pre-exploration activities.

Based on your experience, what are your recommendations to other industry leaders? 
Keep an eye on Lebanon. Lebanon has just entered the East-Med hydrocarbons area, and has entered to become a major player.