With the latest discovery of oil and gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean region, the concern about safety accidents and oil spills in this fragile social and natural ecosystem is continuously increasing. This paper discusses the approach of the Lebanese Petroleum Administration (LPA), as the upstream oil and gas regulator in Lebanon, towards proper health, safety and environment (HSE) management of the upcoming oil and gas sector. The potential challenges to the sector are excacerbated with existing inconsistencies in regulations, conflicting mandates, weak enforceability, lack of resources and political conflicts. A review of the existing HSE legal and regulatory framework was undertaken to identify gaps and challenges in addition to the mapping of relevant stakeholders. In parallel, a benchmarking of international HSE goverance and management systems in the oil and gas sector was necessary to gauge latest approaches and best practices in the industry to guide the development of a HSE framework in Lebnaon. The analysis covered the characteristics and implications of each of the prescriptive, risk-based and hybrid approaches to HSE management. It highlighted the importance of a very clear distinction between the authority that issues the operating licenses and the authorities that regulate safety and environment in order to prevent conflict of interest and install a natural checks-and-balance system. The study proposes a risk based hybrid HSE governance framework for implementation in Lebanon, as well as, develop a roundmap for the development of this HSE regulatory framework. In parallel, and based on lessons learnt from the Jiyeh 2006 oil spill, the largest oil spill in the Eastern Mediterranenan, an update of the national oil spill contingency plan is undertaken in light of IMO and IPIECA guidelines. This study reconfirms how benchmarks, case studies and context analysis can effectively inform governance in emerging structures facilitating necessary mindset shifts and mainstreaming the needed HSE culture.

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