Lebanon wants to auction energy rights to areas in the Mediterranean Sea contested by neighboring Israel and will invite more companies to qualify for bidding next month. The new bidders can apply Feb. 2 to March 31, Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil told reporters at his office in Beirut. The ministry will select license winners by Nov. 15, he said. Lebanon’s cabinet approved two decrees earlier this month allowing the Middle Eastern nation to move ahead with development of its energy assets, ending three years of delays. Five blocks will be available for exploration and development, including areas that lie in waters disputed by Israel. “This is our natural and sovereign right,” Khalil said Thursday. Lebanon has lagged behind Cyprus, Egypt and Israel in developing oil and gas deposits that may lie beneath its share of the Mediterranean. Earlier seismic surveys show the country could hold at least 96 […]