Egypt to provide Lebanon with electricity, gas
Aug 18, 2008 - McClatchy-Tribune Regional News - The Daily Star
Beirut, Lebanon - Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora announced on Saturday that Egypt will supply Lebanon with electricity and gas to meet the growing consumption in a country that has been experiencing severe power rationing for the past 15 years. Siniora, who headed a delegation to Egypt, met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and senior officials.
"We are coordinating our efforts with [Egyptian] Prime Minister Ahmad Nazif and the relevant ministers in Egypt in order to enable Egyptian electricity and gas to reach Lebanon as soon as possible,"
Siniora told reporters at a joint news conference with Nazif in the northern city of Alexandria. Siniora said energy ministers from both countries would hold meetings over the next few days to begin drafting agreements.
Electricity is a constant concern for the Lebanese government, which allocates the third largest slice of its budget, after debt servicing and salaries, to power supply.
Former Finance Minister Jihad Azour told The Daily Star recently that the losses incurred by Electricite du Liban (EDL) could reach $1.5 billion at the end of 2008 if the prices of oil continued to climb up.
Nearly all of Lebanon's aging power stations run on fuel oil and gas oil.
The country suffers daily power outages, including in the capital where many businesses and apartment blocks have bought generators to tide them over during lengthy blackouts.
Late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri had signed an agreement with Egypt to buy electricity in 2001 as part of the regional power grid that includes Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Turkey. but the deal never materialized.
Sources said Egypt would supply Lebanon with 200 MW of electricity in less than two months and this amount would surely reduce power rationing in the country.
According to press reports, Siniora has urged Egypt to speed up the delivery of electricity and gas to Lebanon.
Mubarak instructed his prime ministers and the minister of energy to give the Lebanese request top priority.
No details emerged on the prices Egypt will charge Lebanon for the electricity.
The Lebanese media said that the last link for a power line that links Egypt to Lebanon through Jordan and Syria has been completed.
They added that there are no longer technical problems to deliver electricity to Lebanon.
Egypt will also supply Lebanon with gas through a pipeline crossing Jordan and Syria. Officials said Syria has completed preparations to deliver the gas to Lebanon after running numerous tests in its facilities.
The Egyptian gas, which was expected to be delivered in June or July of this year, will supply the Beddawi plant in Tripoli.
The government says the Beddawi plant will help reduce Lebanon's energy bill by $200 million a year.
However, EDL officials admit that Lebanon still needs to explore new ways to receive LNG from Qatar and other countries though tankers.
Lebanon's power plants hardly produce 1,600 MW while the actual need is over 2,300 MW.