Lebanon's government has prequalified eight more companies to bid for its first round of offshore E&P licenses after prequalifying 46 companies in 2013, Energy and Water Minister Cesar Abou Khalil said on April 26.

The bidding process for offshore blocks 1, 4, 8, 9 and 10, three of which border Israeli waters, was postponed for years because of political paralysis in Lebanon until the formation of a new government late in 2016.

Abou Khalil said one of the eight companies, India's ONGC Videsh, had been prequalified to bid as an operator.

He named the other seven prequalifiers as PJSC Lukoil, Qatar Petroleum, U.K.-based New Age African Global Energy, JSC Novatek, Iran's Petropars, Sonatrach International Petroleum Exploration, and SapuraKencana.

"All the companies that were prequalified during the prequalification round that took place in 2013 remain prequalified to take part in the first licensing round," Abou Khalil said.

In 2013, 12 companies prequalified as operators, including Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX), Total and ExxonMobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM).

Lebanon, along with Cyprus, Israel and Egypt, sits on the Levant Basin in the Mediterranean where gas fields have been discovered since 2009.

Prequalified companies will submit their bids to the Lebanese Petroleum Administration in September, where they will be considered for a month before being passed to the energy minister and the Cabinet for final approval, Khalil previously said.