The Government of Lebanon has approved second offshore licensing round in a bid to further develop its energy sector.

The move was announced by Lebanese Energy Minister Nada Boustani. The deadline to submit the bids is 31 January 2020, the minister said.

Earlier, government agency Lebanese Petroleum Administration (LPA) recommenced the addition of four offshore blocks in this round, reported Reuters. However, it is not confirmed if all four are approved by the government.

In February 2018, Lebanon signed its first offshore oil and gas exploration and production contracts for two blocks, which was awarded to a consortium of Total, Eni and Novatek.

“According to an estimate, the country hosts 96 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves and 865 million barrels of oil in offshore locations.”

Lebanon has been aiming to develop its offshore oil and gas sector since several years. However, various issues including political crisis and maritime disputes with neighbouring countries have delayed the process. It initially aimed to launch its first offshore exploration in 2013, but domestic political issues delayed it to 2017.

Lebanon is located close to the Levant Basin in the eastern Mediterranean where multiple resources were identified in the last decade across Cypriot, Israeli and Egyptian waters.

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According to an estimate, the country hosts 96 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves and 865 million barrels of oil in offshore locations. Still, around 90% of its energy requirements are fulfilled through imports. Development of the domestic petroleum sector will ease pressure on the government exchequer, lower costs as well as support the underfunded power sector.