BEIRUT: The Cabinet approved Wednesday two long-awaited decrees that would pave the way for the first licensing round for offshore oil and gas exploration in Lebanon's exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The two decrees pertain to the designation of blocks that make up Lebanon's EEZ and the terms of the Exploration and Production Agreement (EPA).
The ratification of the two decrees had been postponed several times over the past years due to political disagreements over the designation of blocks that would be open for bidding.
President Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement and Speaker Nabih Berri's Amal Movement have long disagreed over whether to license all blocks at once, as Berri proposed, or to adopt a gradual licensing approach as suggested by the Lebanese Petroleum Administration.
Earlier this year, the FPM and the Amal Movement reportedly reached an agreement to gradually license blocks.
The Cabinet also formed two ministerial committees chaired by Prime Minister Saad Hariri to evaluate law proposals relating to the taxation of Petroleum activities and the onshore oil and gas exploration.
In another sign of rapprochement between the country's major political factions namely the FPM and the Future Movement, the Cabinet appointed Imad Kreidieh as the head of the state-owned telecommunications company Ogero, replacing Abdel-Moneim Youssef.
Youssef, a figure close to ex-prime minister and head of the Future Movement parliamentary bloc MP Fouad Siniora, has been long criticized for occupying at the same time the post of general director of investment and maintenance at the Telecom Ministry.
The FPM has long argued that holding the two posts by the same person is in violation of the law.
The post of general director of investment and maintenance at the Telecom Ministry was assigned Wednesday to Bassel al-Ayoubi.
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