With a new president, Lebanon plans to make its first offshore awards by end-2017. But focusing on acreage part-claimed by Israel risks derailing the process.

Lebanon this week released details of the five blocks on offer in the country’s first ever bid round which it hopes to award by the end of 2017.

The timeline is ambitious, especially given that three of the five blocks – numbers 8, 9 and 10 – contain a 854km² wedge also claimed by Israel (see map), with whom...