Lebanon will hold its first round of offshore oil and natural gas licensing in early 2013, Bloomberg reported. Minister of Social Affairs Wael Bou Faour said the first round of companies interested in gaining drilling rights off the country's coast will begin February 1, with a list of qualified explorers released March 31. Lebanon will begin accepting bids on May 2.
Bloomberg reported the Lebanese government approved the oil and natural gas licensing at a cabinet meeting December 27. Lebanon's effort to increase offshore oil development will help it "catch up" to the neighboring countries of Israel and Cyprus in terms of developing fuel reserves.
A six member petroleum board was appointed in Lebanon in November and an oil and gas law was passed in 2010. However, political disputes have delayed any action on drilling, Bloomberg reported.
The 2010 law allowed for oil and gas exploration of the country's coast, the Lebanon Daily Star reported. The December 27 meeting was the final session of the year for the Cabinet.