Lebanon awarded offshore concessions to a consortium of Total, Eni, and Novatek to explore in its territorial waters, Bloomberg reports.
The companies received preliminary licenses for blocks 4 and 9, according to the news agency. The concessions are the first of their kind granted by Lebanon.
The companies have a month to complete and submit paperwork and then contracts will be signed, Wissam Chbat of the Lebanese Petroleum Administration told Bloomberg.
The government expects drilling to begin in 2019, the news agency reports. Complicating the issue, however, is that block 9 lies in territorial waters also claimed by Israel.
Neighboring Israel, Cyprus, and Egypt have all made significant natural gas discoveries in their territorial waters that have bolstered international interest in further exploration.
This fall, Lebanon’s National Assembly approved a framework to tax oil and natural gas revenues.