The Lebanese Cabinet on Thursday approved granting licenses for oil exploration and excavation in the offshore blocks 5 and 9.
According to al-Akhbar newspaper, Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil had agreed with the firms that excavation should begin in 2019.
Block 5 lies off Lebanon’s northern coast while block 9 lies off Lebanon’s southern coast.
Earlier this decade, geologists discovered a bonanza of gas reserves off the coasts of Lebanon and occupied Palestine, sparking a frenzy of development on the Israeli side to tap into the fields.
Lebanon’s successive governments, beset by infighting and corruption, made only marginal progress toward that goal. In January, Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil described the government’s approval of the executive decrees for offshore oil and gas excavation as the government’s “first achievement.”
A portion of the reserves lies in territory disputed by the two countries.
Hezbollah has repeatedly warned the Zionist enemy against tapping into Lebanon’s gas reserves.