Exploration drilling of oil and gas in the Mediterranean Sea will begin in 2019, Lebanese Minister of Energy and Water Cesar Abi Khalil said in an interview with the Russian news agency Sputnik.
The minister also held a news conference in Dec. 2017 announcing plans to begin exploratory drilling in 2019.
“If commercial drilling does not take place as we plan, we will continue the exploration of the oil fields,” Abi Khalil told the news outlet.
If the country begins successfully drilling for gas and oil, the Energy Minister said it could be used to fulfill Lebanon’s energy needs, or be delivered to Europe “by sea, through Egypt or via the Arab pipeline.”
Hydrocarbons, an early indicator if oil exists in an area, were originally discovered near Lebanon in the eastern Mediterranean in 2009.
In August of this year, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil asked his Russian counterpart to encourage Russian energy companies to take part in the upcoming bidding round of foreign investments.
Sputnik reported that tensions have grown between Lebanese and Israeli governments over territorial claims of the oil reserves.