BEIRUT, Lebanon, Oct. 8 (UPI) -- There's nothing Israel can do to undermine Lebanese efforts to exploit its oil potential in offshore reserves, the Lebanese foreign minister said.
More than 40 international energy companies this year expressed interest in Lebanon's first oil and natural gas licensing round. Lawmakers need to pass a measure to demarcate the blocks available before the formal bidding process can begin.
The offshore area is considered frontier territory, though the U.S. Geological survey said parts of the region may hold 1.7 billion barrels of oil and more than 100 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour said Israel should avoid any "blatant aggression" against Lebanon's resources.
"Lebanon will invest in its oil wealth in the region and Israel cannot stop it from doing so," he was quoted as saying Monday by The (Beirut) Daily Star.
Israel is eager to capitalize on offshore prospects, which may encroach on Lebanon's maritime territory. The Shiite resistance movement Hezbollah last year warned Israel to stay away from Lebanon's offshore reserves because of border issues.
Mansour said offshore reserves were a strategic national interest.