With two exploration contracts signed in February, the ball is finally rolling on hydrocarbon exploration offshore Lebanon (MEES, 16 February). In Beirut, the anticipation is palpable, and the political elite is not too proud to pat itself on the back despite years of delays.

“We strongly advocate to develop a sustainable petroleum sector using non-renewable assets while promoting accountability, transparency and competitiveness,” Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil mused at the Lebanon International Oil & Gas (LIOG) summit in Beirut this week. He became more bullish when he switched to Arabic to “address the Lebanese press,” promising that “the sector will take us out of our pool of debt” whilst vehemently denouncing all claims of corruption emerging from opposition media outlets. The minister, a member of President Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement, was quick to praise the current government’s efforts ahead of next week’s elections. (CONTINUED - 1044 WORDS)