Exclusive Interview with Niazi Kabalan, Senior Associate (Lebanon and East Mediterranean Expert) at Pinsent Masons - international law firm

“As both a Lebanese law expert and an international oil and gas expert, I am excited at the prospect of playing a part in the development of Lebanon's oil and gas sector,” says Niazi Kabalan, Senior Associate at Pinsent Masons, the London-based international law firm.

Pinsent Masons - international law firm prides itself of its commitment to its view that “legal services at all times should underpin the clients' needs and business objectives,” as well as its dedication to “tipping the scales” in favour of its clients.

Pinsent Masons is a supporting sponsor of the 5th Lebanon International Oil & Gas Summit (LIOG 2019).  The LIOG team discussed with Senior Associate, Me. Niazi Kabalan, his firm’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 Levant Basin Province in the Eastern Mediterranean is an exciting new frontier for the oil and gas industry. There is a lot of potential for discoveries in Lebanon, particularly as there have been significant gas discoveries in the neighbouring Levant Basin States, including Egypt and most recently this year in Cyprus (Block 10).

Do you have any assessment of the required investments in your sector for this nascent industry? What can drive the growth in investments?

I have worked in jurisdictions with a developed O&G sector as well as many jurisdictions where the sector is under development.

A nascent O&G sector requires significant capital investment and a commitment to human capital through capacity building in the public and private sectors, and social responsibility programmes to support local communities. Key drivers to investment include a legal and fiscal regime which is attractive to investors and fair to the host state, confidence that government bodies and regulators will apply regulations in a stable, fair and transparent manner, and of course, significant hydrocarbon discoveries!

What role can your company play in developing the oil and gas sector in Lebanon?

Our legal offering combines international oil & gas experience gained across multiple jurisdictions from the North Sea to Africa, with Lebanon expertise in respect of Lebanese laws and regulations, as well as non-legal matters such as commercial practice and customs. We are therefore very well placed to support participants in the oil and gas sector in Lebanon. As both a Lebanese law expert and an international oil & gas expert, I am excited at the prospect of playing a part in the development of Lebanon's oil and gas sector.

What are your expectations from your participation in the 5th edition of the Lebanon International Oil and Gas Summit (5th LIOG-2019)?

I have very high expectations for the 5th edition of LIOG.  The organisation is always excellent, with a high calibre of attendees and speakers.

Based on your experience, what are your recommendations to other industry leaders?

I have worked in Lebanon for many years, on significant energy and infrastructure projects. I would certainly recommend investment in Lebanon. No investment is without challenges, however. Make sure you have a good team of professional advisers to help you navigate the challenges so that you can focus on the technical success of your project. And don't forget to try the local cuisine.

How do you describe the activities of your company in general? And are you establishing a branch in Lebanon?

We are very active in the energy and infrastructure sectors in Lebanon and in the Middle East more broadly. In Lebanon, we offer our clients a unique combination which includes our own Lebanese qualified team alongside our relationship law firm in Lebanon. Together we offer a single legal service offering international and Lebanon law advice as one team with full Arabic, French and English language capability.