Sitting virtually at the eye of the Syrian civil war storm Lebanon has been somewhat sheltered. But it is perilously close to getting sucked into the tempest, which is not just propelled by sectarian squalls but also funneled by foreign powers, including those of Iran and the Gulf. Despite its perilous position, Lebanon has attracted significant IOC attention as it prepares to offer offshore exploration opportunities.

Lebanon’s caretaker Minister of Energy and Water, Gebran Bassil, recently softened his rhetoric when discussing the 854 sq km of disputed waters between Lebanon and Israel, likely indicating that Lebanon is prepared to accept an American-mediated compromise that would see it secure about 530 sq km. During a press conference on 18 April announcing the list of companies prequalified to bid for hydrocarbons exploration in Lebanon’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), Mr Basil said that “the issue of the borders with Israel will not have an impact as long as we are alert.” (CONTINUED - 1150 WORDS)