BEIRUT, Lebanon, April 4 (UPI) -- A U.S. energy company was awarded a contract to conduct a seismic survey offshore Lebanon to determine the reserve potential, the Lebanese government said.
Lebanese Energy Minister Gebran Bassil said ION Geophysical secured a contract for seismic surveys for work offshore. He said the company would work to determine the extent of the reserve potential in the Levantine basin.
"Israel and other countries that claimed to be friendly have tried to prevent Lebanon from seeking to exploit its oil wealth," Bassil was quoted by The Daily Star newspaper in Lebanon as saying.
He credited Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah with discouraging Israel from encroaching on disputed offshore areas.
Russian oil companies Rosneft and Lukoil, along with gas producer Novatek, have filed bids to take part in a licensing round planned for offshore Lebanon, the government added.
Bassil's ministry has received more than 50 bids from international oil and natural gas companies to take part in a licensing round set for April 18.
The offshore area is considered frontier territory, though the Lebanese government has said parts of the Leviathan natural gas field offshore Israel are in its territorial waters.