Speaker Nabih Berri has said that he would prioritize the exploration of gas and oil after Lebanon resolves its waste management crisis.

Berri, whose remarks were published in al-Joumhouria daily on Friday, told his visitors that he will focus on resolving the oil exploration file after the garbage crisis which erupted in July 2015 is over.

Last month, the leaders of Cyprus, Israel and Greece agreed to establish an underwater gas pipeline from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe.

The three countries will form a trilateral committee to study the plans to build the pipeline between Israel and Cyprus and on to Greece for gas exports to Europe.

According to al-Joumhouria, there are fears that the pipeline would pass through parts of a disputed zone with Israel.

In 2013, the parliament passed a law setting Lebanon’s maritime boundary and Exclusive Economic Zone.

But Lebanon has submitted to the United Nations a maritime map that conflicts significantly with one proposed by Israel, arguing that its map is in line with an armistice accord drawn up in 1949, an agreement not contested by Israel.

The disputed zone consists of about 854 square kilometers (330 square miles), and suspected energy reserves that could generate billions of dollars.

Energy Minister Arthur Nazaraian has warned that international companies would lose interest in bidding for oil and gas exploration in Lebanon if the government fails to speed up licensing procedures.

But the government should first endorse two oil decrees. The first tackles the demarcation of the 10 maritime oil blocks, and touches on the division of the Exclusive Economic Zone to several blocks that are not entirely equal. And the second decree, which is linked to setting up a revenue-sharing model, tackles the contracts signed with the international companies.