British Foreign Secretary William Hague arrived in Lebanon on Wednesday, 20/02, on a short visit. He is expected to meet with President Michel Slaiman, Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Najib Mikati. Hague will also meet Energy Minister Gebran Bassil on Thursday morning, and the two will announce the launching of 2-D seismic surveys that will be conducted onshore by British firm Spectrum, which also conducted seismic surveys in Lebanese waters. The visit comes less than a week after the launching of the pre-qualification phase preceding the country’s first licensing round (expected in May 2013), which was attended by several ambassadors, including the US and UK ambassadors, and signals a firm backing for Lebanese efforts to exploit offshore resources, and a strong interest in being associated in these efforts. British-based Cairn Energy is among the companies that will bid for an exploration license in May. The UK government, and its diplomats in Beirut, are actively and publicly encouraging British companies to be involved in hydrocarbon exploration in Lebanon, and are lobbying Lebanese officials to this end.