On 15 August, a powerful car bomb targeted Beirut’s mostly Shi’a southern suburbs, killing more than 24 and injuring hundreds. This represents a major setback as Lebanon grapples with political instability; indeed, prospects for a timely execution of Lebanon’s eagerly anticipated first offshore bidding round grow ever dimmer. After several rounds of bloodletting and a months-long buildup of tension, the country fell into a rare quiet over Ramadan. There is little cause, however, for optimism, and a 2 November deadline for bids looks a near-certainty to be missed.

Three decrees covering final block delineation and the proposed model contract still await cabinet approval. But no government has been in place since the 22 March resignation of Prime Minister Najib Miqati. Prime Minister-designate, Tammam Salam, has failed to form a government and the current caretaker government has no authority to approve decrees. Although, caretaker Minister of Energy and Water, Gebran Bassil – son-in-law of the head of the Free Patriotic Movement leader, Michel Aoun – has hinted that the current administration might try and push through the decrees regardless. (CONTINUED - 366 WORDS)