Energy and Water Minister Arthur Nazarian speaks during an interview in Beirut, Monday, April 7, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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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.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.Officials have said that Lebanon may have as much as 96 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 850 million barrels of oil under its waters.The maritime border dispute with Israel affects two of Lebanon's 10 offshore blocks.Nazarian said the Cabinet would decide whether to auction all of the blocks at once or in stages, but he did not foresee any problems if the two blocks were auctioned before the dispute was resolved.
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