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Lebanon to launch new round of licensing

Exploration & Production

Lebanons Prime Minister Saad Hariri has said the country plans to launch a licensing round for offshore gas exploration at the beginning of 2012.

"We are finalising the economic zones with Syria, and hopefully soon we will be sending to parliament the whole area for ratification," Reuters quoted him as saying. "At some point we had some differences on the agreement with Cyprus; we had some differences with Syria. Now we have a much better relationship with Syria, and we are negotiating the economic zone," said Hairi.

Cyprus has a conclusive agreement with Egypt defining its sea boundaries and has penned an agreement that is awaiting ratification with Lebanon. It is also holding talks with Israel.

Cyprus, which lies to Lebanon's west, carried out one licensing round for deep-water exploration in the eastern Mediterranean in 2007, despite objections from Turkey. It has no diplomatic ties with its northern neighbour. Turkey has said it plans to begin work on oil exploration around Cyprus but has yet to specify where.

The southern rim of the island, controlled by Cyprus's internationally recognised government, which has already been divided in to 13 sea plots, is being offered for exploration.

US-based energy company Noble has exploration rights to one of Cyprus's plots, while the island plans a second licensing round soon. Energy officials say they want to conclude talks with neighbouring countries before proceeding with another round.