Nazarian sees gas licensing auction within four months

BEIRUT: Lebanon expects to close its first licensing round for offshore gas exploration areas within about four months after overcoming a legislative hurdle by the end of April, the energy minister said Monday.

Early estimates suggest the country has natural gas reserves that, if proven, could rank as the world’s 15th largest.

But Lebanon has delayed the licensing auction three times already due to political gridlock. Spillover from the war in neighboring Syria and maritime border rows with Israel pose high risks for would-be investors, analysts and industry sources say.

Lebanon was unable to form a government from March 2013 to February 2014, and the caretaker Cabinet said it did not have the authority to approve two decrees delineating the offshore blocks and setting up a model exploration and production agreement.

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