Lebanon’s first bid round for rights to explore offshore blocks for oil and gas has fallen victim to political gridlock and sectarian bickering. With no government to handle the matter, two cabinet decrees governing critical aspects of the bid round – offshore block delineation and fiscal terms – remain unresolved. Caretaker Energy Minister Gebran Bassil said recently that the bid round will have to continue without the two decrees, but it will be difficult to cajole IOCs into proceeding with their bids before IOCs are sure what they are bidding for and under what specific terms – all subject to the approval of a future government.

With no grand compromise in sight, it may be well into 2014 before Mr Salam is able to form a new government. It is therefore highly likely that there will be further delays to the deadline for IOCs to submit their bids. Already, Mr Basil has pushed back this deadline by several months and is currently expecting bids by 10 January 2014. (CONTINUED - 175 WORDS)