A long awaited oil and gas licensing round in Lebanon is set to resume after a three-year delay.
Lebanon’s oil ministry told Reuters that the country passed two decrees earlier this week that define blocks that will be offered for licensing and outline conditions for production and exploration activities.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the country had hoped to complete a pre-qualification bid for the offshore licenses by April 2014.
The bid round for 10 offshore blocks was delayed several times, in part due to issues tied to the demarcation of the southern boundary of Lebanese territorial waters.
Lebanon plans to offer five offshore blocks for exploration and production activities during its upcoming licensing round.
Lebanon Minister of Energy and Water Cesar Abou Khalil told Reuters that Lebanon will also hold a pre-qualification round for firms who are interested in the blocks.
Three years ago, Lebanon approved 46 companies to bid for oil and gas blocks, with a dozen companies qualifying as operators.
Lebanese officials must now draft a new tax plan that will cover the country’s oil and gas sector.
Abou Khalil told Reuters that he expects a tax law to pass during the country’s first legislative session.
A timeline for the licensing round has not been disclosed yet.
According to the EIA, Lebanon currently relies heavily on energy imports to meet the majority of its domestic demand.
Lebanon’s government has estimated that there are potential natural gas reserves of 25 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) or more are located in its offshore territory.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimated in 2010 that the offshore Levant Basin at 1.7 billion barrels of oil and 122 Tcf of natural gas.
According to the EIA, Lebanon’s total primary energy production hit 0.008 quadrillion BTUs in 2014.