Despite abundant reserves, Lebanon still produces no oil. Blame the country's volatile politics
Last week the Lebanese government announced the final list of companies eligible to bid for its first-ever round of licensing for oil and gas exploration and production, which is due to start in September. Saddled with debt greater than 140% of GDP, Lebanon could do with the revenue it would receive from exploiting its offshore hydrocarbon reserves, estimated at 850m barrels of oil and 96trn cubic feet of gas. Yet it lags behind neighbouring Israel, Cyprus and Egypt in tapping the deposits. While the existence of large fields in the eastern Mediterranean has been known since 2009, Beirut has yet to start drilling for the black stuff. Why is Lebanon taking so long to join the ranks of oil-producing nations?
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