Lebanon’s energy ministry has extended a deadline for bids in its first licensing round for offshore oil and gas exploration by four weeks to Oct. 12, the state-run National News Agency (NNA) reported Sept. 8.

Lebanon relaunched the licensing round in January after a three-year delay due to political paralysis at home. The original deadline for prequalified companies to submit their bids for E&P was Sept. 15.

Lebanon sits on the Levant Basin in the eastern Mediterranean along with Cyprus, Egypt, Israel and Syria. A number of gas fields, such as Leviathan and Tamar, have been discovered there since 2009.

The bid extension, approved by Energy and Water Minister Cesar Abou Khalil, came after a recommendation from the Lebanese Petroleum Administration, NNA said.

When the process was first launched in 2013, 46 companies qualified to take part in bidding, 12 of them as operators, including Chevron Corp., Total and ExxonMobil Corp.

Abou Khalil said in January five offshore blocks (1, 4, 8, 9 and 10) would be the subject of bids in the licensing round.