Lebanon News

Hezbollah pushes for Cabinet meet over oil

Minister Mohammad Fneish meets caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the Grand Serail in Beirut Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013. (The Daily Star/DalatiNohra HO)

BEIRUT: A Hezbollah minister met Wednesday with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and stressed the need to hold a session of the resigned government in order to approve two decrees needed to kick off oil exploration in Lebanon.

“We need to separate between the political stances and the caretaker government’s activity. There is nothing that prevents holding a Cabinet session over the oil issue,” caretaker State Minister Mohammad Fneish said after meeting Mikati at the Grand Serail.

“The interests of the people should not be obstructed and a caretaker Cabinet should meet to address important affairs,” he said.

Fneish’s meeting with Mikati comes days after Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah urged the Mikati to convene the resigned Cabinet over oil decrees and to discuss the situation in Tripoli, north Lebanon, which has seen an increase of violence over the crisis in Syria.

During a televised speech Monday, the Hezbollah leader lashed out at Saudi Arabia, accusing the kingdom of putting pressure on Mikati not to convene the government.

Earlier this year, Lebanon officially launched its first oil and gas licensing round with 46 international energy companies prequalifying to bid for offshore exploration contracts.

However, the Cabinet must convene to pass two decrees demarcating 10 maritime oil exploration blocks and establishing a revenue-sharing model before oil and gas contracts can be awarded.

Caretaker Energy Minister Gebran Bassil has continuously called for a session of Cabinet to address the matter of the oil decrees while the Future parliamentary bloc says only a new government should handle the matter.

Mikati has resisted calls to hold an extraordinary session of Cabinet to pass the two oil decrees.





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