"We expect greater participation in the second round of licensing," Boustani said, adding that representatives from Russia's Lukoil, Spain's Repsol and Britain's BP had visited Lebanon in the last few weeks. "For sure Total and Eni are still interested," she added.
Lebanon is on the Levant Basin in the eastern Mediterranean where a number of big sub-sea gas fields have been discovered since 2009 in waters off Cyprus, Israel and Egypt.
Beirut tried to launch its first offshore exploration in 2013, but domestic political problems delayed it until 2017. For this round, it has merged the prequalification process for licence bidders into the bidding process. Pro-transparency group, the Lebanese Oil and Gas Initiative, urged the government to reconsider the decision, saying it might make the process more opaque.