Lebanon's new government has issued key decrees to prepare the way for oil and gas extraction off its coast, after more than two years of political deadlock had stymied previous efforts.
The decrees, which came on Wednesday, authorize regulators to divide the offshore areas into blocks for drilling and exploration and to issue tenders. Lebanon's minister of energy and water is Cesar Abou Khalil.
Earlier this decade, geologists discovered a bonanza of gas reserves off the coasts of Lebanon and Israel, sparking a frenzy of development on the Israeli side to tap into the fields.
Lebanon's government, beset by infighting and corruption, made only marginal progress toward that goal. A portion of the reserves lies in territory disputed by the two countries.
The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah has issued numerous threats warning Israel not to tap into Lebanon's gas reserves.