Lebanon's new Cabinet endorsed two crucial decrees on offshore oil and gas exploration, putting an end to the long-delayed matter in its first meeting since the new government won a vote of confidence.
Local media said that Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil announced the news from the Baabda Palace, describing it as the Cabinet's first "achievement."
President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri met behind closed doors ahead of the session.
As he left the meeting, Industry Minister Hussein Hajj Hasan joked with reporters that each of them would get "a new phone and a barrel of oil."
The two decrees could pave the way for the first licensing round of offshore gas exploration in Lebanon’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) by designating the blocks that would be open for bidding.
The decrees are necessary to set out the blocks that are up for auction and a revenue sharing model.
There is a territorial dispute between Lebanon and Israel over a region of 800 square kilometers on the border between both countries. Both Lebanon and Israel claim ownership of that maritime area.
Seismic studies carried out since 2013 have shown that Lebanon could possess trillions of cubic feet of oil and natural gas in its waters, a discovery which could boost international confidence in Lebanon’s economic future.
The Daily Star