BEIRUT, Lebanon, May 13 (UPI) -- Three of the largest oil companies in the world were among those expressing interest in offshore Lebanon, a Lebanese energy regulator said.
Lebanese Caretaker Energy Minister Gebran Bassil said the interim government has decided to go ahead with a licensing round for offshore exploration. Delays are expected, however, if a new Cabinet isn't formed by September.
Lebanese leaders may push the issue forward, however, if the matter was determined to be a significant national interest.
There may be more than 400 million barrels of oil and 20 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in place offshore Lebanon.
President of the Lebanese Petroleum Administration Assem Abou Ibrahim said Royal Dutch Shell, Total and Exxon Mobil were among those getting necessary documents in order for an eventual offshore bid, Bloomberg News reports.
They're among the 12 energy majors bidding for the right to serve as operators in Lebanon. Awards are expected by early 2014.
A new government will be tasked to mapping out the expected blocks.
Shiite resistance movement Hezbollah has warned Israel to stay away from Lebanon's maritime natural resources. Lebanon disputes some of the reserve claims in the Mediterranean Sea.