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BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanon's energy minister has announced a second round of bidding for licenses to search offshore for oil a day after the cabinet approved it.

Energy Minister Nada Boustani said the deadline for companies to submit their offers for five of the country's 10 offshore blocks is Jan. 31, 2020.

The first round of Lebanon's licensing process saw two blocks in the Mediterranean Sea awarded to French Total, Italian Eni and Russian Novatek. One of them is disputed in part by Israel.

"We are heading toward an oil-productive Lebanon," Boustani said at a news conference in Beirut on Friday.

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She said the purpose is to increase exploration in Lebanese waters and strengthen competition among bidding companies.

Lebanese governments have long sought energy development but political bickering and a dispute with Israel over the maritime border has caused delays.

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