BEIRUT: MP Michel Aoun criticized the Cabinet Tuesday for failing to convene to take action on oil-related decrees needed to award companies contracts and begin lucrative oil extraction off Lebanon’s coast.
“The deadline to issue the decrees to assign the maritime blocks to certain companies expired yesterday [Monday] and this indicates unwillingness on the part of the Cabinet to extract oil,” the head of the Change and Reform bloc told reporters after his bloc’s weekly meeting in Rabieh.
Aoun said the Cabinet would have another chance to fix the situation, noting that caretaker Energy Minister Gebran Bassil will set another deadline for the Cabinet to convene and pass the decrees.
The decrees, demarcating 10 maritime oil exploration blocks and establishing a revenue-sharing model, require Cabinet approval before oil and gas contracts can be awarded to bidding companies.
The delay could postpone offshore drilling and exploration, Aoun said.
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.
Aoun also said the delay was a “loss of morale” for the Christians, saying: “They don’t want us to succeed in this ministry and this is a big loss for us.”
“No one has ever been able to achieve anything in this ministry in terms of electricity, water, or energy,” he said.