Lebanon Picks 46 Firms for Gas Exploration Bids

BEIRUT - A group of 46 firms have qualified to bid on a first round of licenses to explore Lebanese offshore gas fields, with 12 qualified to bid as operators, the energy minister said on Thursday.

"This is a new step forward towards the entry of Lebanon into the world of oil," Gebrane Bassil said during a press conference to announce the qualifiers.

The bidding round is scheduled to begin on May 2.

Of the 52 companies that entered the pre-qualification process, 12 qualified as potential operators, and another 34 as potential non-operators able to participate indirectly in the exploitation of Lebanon's offshore gas reserves.

The 12 include U.S. firms Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Chevron Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corp., Europe's Total SA, Repsol SA, Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Maersk Sealand, Statoil ASA and Eni SpA; Brazil's Petrobras, Malaysia's Petronas Carigili and Japan's Inpex Corp.

The bidding will be open until Nov. 4, Bassil said, adding that tender specifications had been finalized but needed to be approved by the cabinet.

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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