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UPDATE 1-Lebanon selects 46 firms to bid for offshore gas exploration
April 18, 2013 / 5:36 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Lebanon selects 46 firms to bid for offshore gas exploration

By Laila Bassam
    BEIRUT, April 18 (Reuters) - Lebanon has selected 46
international oil companies to bid to explore for gas in its
Mediterranean waters, Energy Minister Gebran Bassil said on
    Bassil said 12 firms could bid as operators and the other 34
could bid as non-operators in the licensing round which opens on
May 2, starting a process which should lead to agreement on
exploration licences by March next year. 
    Lebanon hopes that sizeable gas discoveries could help
address both its high government debt and chronic domestic power
shortages, but its initial steps towards exploration have been
plagued by delays and now face additional uncertainty.
    Prime Minister Najib Mikati resigned last month and his
designated replacement has yet to form a new government. Only a
new cabinet can approve a document setting out the 10
exploration blocs, ranging from 1,500 to 2,500 square km, which
was awaiting cabinet endorsement when Mikati resigned, and
approve the final results of the bidding process.
    Lebanon is also involved in a dispute over the maritime
border with its southern neighbour Israel, which has already
discovered huge gas reserves. 
    But Bassil said the country would move ahead with the
bidding round despite the domestic political uncertainty and the
disagreement with Israel, which fought a month-long war with
Lebanese militant group Hezbollah in 2006.
    "Today we have completed everything required to launch the
licensing process and to receive bids from the 46 countries," he
told a news conference.
    "The issue of the borders with Israel will not have an
impact as long as we are alert...There are many cases around the
world of disagreement over borders, where oil is extracted
without one side harming the other."
    The companies which have pre-qualified to bid as operators
    Anadarko Petroleum Corp 
    Chevron Corp 

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