Lebanon will start exploratory offshore drilling for oil and gas in 2019 after the government has given the green light for drilling in two blocks in the Mediterranean Sea, Energy and Water Minister Cesar Abi Khalil said Friday.
Between 55 to 71 percent of drilling revenues will go to the country, Abi Khalil told reporters.
He said Lebanon will "assert its resource rights" along the length of its maritime territories.
Lebanon's government approved on Thursday the recently awarded licenses for an international consortium to move forward with offshore oil and gas development.
It will sign contracts with Italy's Eni, France's Total and Russia's Novatek next year.
Abi Khalil told a press conference Friday that oil and gas exploration will create new job opportunities.
After Thursday’s cabinet session that was chaired by President Michel Aoun at Baabda Palace, the energy minister tweeted: “Congratulations to the Lebanese people on the approval of the oil item and Lebanon’s entry into the club of oil (producing) countries.”
He said the next step is for the government to inform the three companies and ask them to sign the contracts.
The government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri has made finding progress on the oil and gas prospects a priority since its formation in 2016 as Lebanon looks to tap potential reserves after major offshore gas discoveries by neighbouring Israel and Cyprus.