BEIRUT (AP) – Lebanon, Egypt and Syria signed an agreement Tuesday to import Egyptian gas to a power plant in northern Lebanon through Syria. The deal would increase badly needed electricity supplies in Lebanon, which is suffering under a severe energy crisis and chronic outages.
The agreement still needs to be signed off on by the World Bank, which is supposed to finance the process. Also, U.S. assurances are needed that the countries involved will not be targeted by American sanctions imposed on Syria, Lebanese Energy Minister Walid Fayad said.
Egypt had agreed to supply Lebanon with natural gas to its power plants through Jordan and Syria. Syrian and Lebanese experts have finished renovation work on the pipeline, which has been ready for months.
Fayad had said that about 650 million cubic meters of gas will be brought to Lebanon through the pipeline annually to the Deir Ammar power station in the north. He added that the amount will lead to the production of 450 megawatts of electricity adding four hours of electricity supplies a day.
“The agreement signed today crowns hard work that began nine months ago,” Fayad said, adding that “we hope that all the obstacles have been removed in order to guarantee funding from the World Bank.”
The director general of Syria’s General Petroleum Corp., Nabih Khrestin, said the deal would cover some of Lebanon’s need “and we are in more need.”
In January, Lebanon signed deals to purchase electricity from Jordan via Syria to help the Mediterranean country that is in the grip of the worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history.
The deal with the Jordanians, which is expected to bring Lebanon up to 250 megawatts of electricity a day — enough for about two hours of power a day — has not been implemented yet.
Lebanon’s state electricity company now offers about two hours of power a day as part of a deal with Iraq that supplies two power stations with fuel. The deal with Iraq expires in September.