Egypt agrees to 'speed up' delivery of gas to Lebanon
Beirut - Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi promised to “speed up and facilitate” the delivery of natural gas to Lebanon in a meeting with Lebanese PM Najib Mikati on Monday.
The two leaders met on the sidelines of the World Youth Forum in Sharm el-Sheikh Egypt, where they discussed the natural gas delivery, in addition to “ways to enhance bilateral cooperation”.
Egypt is supposed to sell natural gas to Lebanon to help alleviate its crippling electricity shortage. In a plan announced in August, Egypt would send natural gas to Jordan, where it would be transferred to Syria, then Lebanon. Some of the gas would be converted to electricity in Jordan and sent on to Lebanon as well.
The Prime Ministry of Lebanon also announced that a preliminary agreement between Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and Syria would be signed “soon.” The agreement is meant to secure an exemption from the US Caesar Act, which imposes sanctions on any entity that trades with the Syrian regime in non-humanitarian sectors.
Progress on the natural gas plan has been steady, with the four countries’ energy and oil ministers flying to each other’s capitals for a flurry of meetings.
In late December, Lebanese Energy Minister Walid Fayyad told Reuters that repairs of the Arab Gas Pipeline in Lebanon should be complete by the end of February – a prerequisite to any natural gas reaching Lebanon.
Fayyad added that when gas would actually reach Lebanon was totally dependent on whether the four countries could receive an exemption from the Caesar Act. The US has so far signalled its approval of the deal, with the agreement initially announced in August, after Lebanese President Michel Aoun received a phone call from US Ambassador to Lebanon, Dorothy Shea.
Lebanon’s state power grid is failing, only providing a few hours of power a day to the country. Currently Beirut only produces 700 megawatts per year, but needs between 3000 and 3500 to cover the needs of its population.
The multi-country gas and electricity deal is meant to supply Lebanon with 450 megawatts, which would translate into about an additional three to four hours of electricity per day.