Lebanon Speaker Nabih Berri

Cyprus and Lebanon have resolved issues over offshore fields in the Mediterranean Sea, a move that is expected to kick start oil and gas exploration in the region.

Representatives of the two nations met on Monday in Beirut to agree upon new cooperative measures in order to mutually benefit from natural resources such as gas and potable water.

Lebanon Speaker Nabih Berri, addressing a joint press conference at Ain el-Tineh, expressed his country’s willingness to provide Cyprus with potable water.

"I hope that tenders would be issued before the end of the year to begin oil and gas exploration," Berri added.

Cypriot Speaker Yiannakis Omirou stressed that there had been efforts from both sides at all levels to safeguard and strengthen relations.

"Both countries strive to achieve the same values of freedom and justice. They both advocate international law and resolving problems based on it," Omirou said.

Cyprus has also offered to mediate between Lebanon and Israel to end disagreements on a small maritime area of 850 square kilometres that both countries have been claiming for several years.

Cyprus department of energy director Solon Kassinis told The Associated Press on the sidelines of the Lebanon International Oil and Gas Summit: "We are already involved in this sort of thing to help as much as we can".

The 2007 Lebanese-Cypriot agreement, aimed at defining Exclusive Economic Zones among the three countries, has been put on hold in view of the ongoing dispute between Lebanon and Israel over maritime boundaries.

Debt-ridden Lebanon, with a view to push its economy, formed a six-member Petroleum Administration Board in November 2012 to focus on oil and gas exploration.

The board will initiate a bidding process for the country’s first offshore oil and natural-gas exploration licenses, under a law it passed in 2010.

Cyprus had recently announced that it will proceed with its plans to develop potential oil and natural gas discoveries in the Mediterranean Sea, despite objections from neighbouring Turkey.

Image: Lebanon Speaker Nabih Berri expects the new cooperation with Cyprus would open tenders for oil and gas exploration in due course. Photo courtesy of the European People’s Party.