Egypt to deliver gas to Lebanon via Jordan, Syria

Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan Gas
(Left to right) Lebanon's Minister of Energy & Water Raymond Ghajar, Egypt's Minister of Petroleum & Mineral Resources Tarek El-Molla, Jordan's Minister of Energy & Mineral Resources Hala Zawati, & Syria's Minister of Oil and Mineral Resources Bassam Tohme give a joint press conference during their meeting Amman on September 8, 2021.(Photo: Petra)
AMMAN  — The energy ministers of Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Jordan announced Wednesday an agreement to deliver Egyptian natural gas to Lebanon via Jordan and Syria, as well as laid out an action plan and timeline for its implementation at a press conference attended by Jordan News.اضافة اعلان

Energy Minister Hala Zawati said that several meetings were held to assess the infrastructure needed to guarantee the delivery of gas to each country, and the necessary infrastructural requirements. These meetings ultimately led to clear action plans and a specific timeframe for deliveries to Lebanon, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

Zawati stressed that this cooperation would be an effective step in supporting strategic projects between the four nations.

Egypt's Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek El-Molla said that his country would "be ready to transfer gas (to Lebanon) as soon as possible" via the transnational Arab Gas Pipeline, according to Agence France-Presse.

But the damage to the pipeline and electricity lines during the decade of civil war in Syria means that energy supplies cannot start flowing before repairs are carried out.

In the push to help revive the stricken Lebanese economy, the US has given rare approval for the Arab neighbors to escape punishment under sanctions targeting the Syrian regime.

Fuel and power shortages are one of the most acute symptoms of Lebanon's economic collapse, paralyzing the economy and vital services like hospitals.
The World Bank has labeled Lebanon's situation as the worst economic crash since the mid-19th century, according to AFP.

On Wednesday, Lebanese Minister of Energy and Water Raymond Ghajar said the country needed "600 million cubic meters of gas to provide 450 megawatts of electricity."

Syria's Minister of Oil and Mineral Resources Bassam Tohme described the project as one of the most important joint Arab cooperation projects, adding that Syria would "exert every possible effort."

Ghajar voiced his gratitude to Jordan, Egypt, and Syria for the initiative they took to reanimate the quadripartite gas agreement.

He stressed that the initiative could not have taken place without the cooperation of the four countries, and in close coordination with the World Bank. 

He said that this cooperation would lead to a revival of an electricity leasing agreement with Jordan, whose power generation prices may be lower than Lebanon's.

Zawati said that another meeting would be held soon to set an action plan for preparing agreements and evaluating the infrastructure.

The gas pipeline linking Jordan and Syria was hit in August 2020 in a blast dubbed a "terrorist act" by Damascus, AFP reported.

Meanwhile "it will take several months to repair the damaged electric lines in Syria," Jordan's Energy Minister Hala Zawati said.

Zawati added that the infrastructure is "almost ready, but there are still repairs" to do.

Lebanon is also "working with the World Bank to ensure the financial resources needed to pay for energy imports from Egypt," Ghajar said.

The ministers underscored that each country would bear the cost of repairing the network within its territory, adding that "within three weeks, we will be ready to review the agreements and evaluate the infrastructure."

The Arab Gas Pipeline was implemented in three phases.

The first phase involved the construction of a pipeline from Al-Arish to Aqaba, with a length of 265km, a diameter of 36 inches, and a capacity of 10 billion cubic meters per year. The supply of natural gas from Egypt to Jordan began on July 27, 2003.

The second phase began from Aqaba to the Rehab area in northern Jordan with a length of 393km. The supply of gas to power plants in the north of the Kingdom began in February 2006. It was completed from Rehab to the Jordanian-Syrian border, spanning 30km. In March 2008.

In July 2008, the southern part of the third phase of the Arab Gas Pipeline was implemented in Syria, extending 320km from the Jordanian-Syrian border to the city of Homs. In November 2009, the export of Egyptian gas to Lebanon via Jordan was begun until it was halted in 2011.

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