(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) BEIRUT, Feb 9 (KUNA) -- The Lebanese government and a three-party global consortium signed two agreements on the exploration for, and exploitation of, oil and gas in Lebanon's territorial waters.
The signing ceremony, held at the Biel convention center on Friday afternoon, gathered President of the Republic Michel Aoun and Minister of Energy and Water Cesar Abi Khalil, as well as representatives of France's energy giant Total, Italy's ENI and Russia's Novatek.
President Aoun welcomed the landmark event and congratulated the Lebanese people on the realization of "a huge dream.
"Lebanon has finally become an oil country. I hope we can extract oil without any hindrances," he said, expressing confidence that the energy industry will play a key role of the Lebanese economy.
On his part, Abi Khalil said the signing of the two deals on the offshore hydrocarbon resources in Bloc Four and Bloc Nine marks the beginning of a practical exploitation of the country's energy resources.
"The Ministry of Energy and Water approved the two bids of the three energy companies, which will start exploratory drilling in 2019," the minister noted.
He voiced hope that the oil and gas resources will help revitalize the national economy through attracting of foreign direct investment and cutting spending on oil imports. (end) ayb.gb