BEIRUT (AP) -- Lebanon's Energy Ministry says 50 companies have participated in a pre-qualification process to win licenses for oil and gas work off the Lebanese coast.
The ministry says the companies include Chevron and Exxon Mobil Corp. from the United States and Royal Dutch Shell PLC.
Lebanon is a resource-poor nation and any finds could help it pay off what is one of the highest debt rates in the world.
The names of winning companies will be announced on April. 18.
Recent Israeli discoveries of oil and gas have raised tensions between Lebanon and neighboring Israel, which are in a state of war. Both countries claim a small maritime area of 850 square kilometers (328 square miles) in the Mediterranean.