Lebanon and Iraq to sign oil pipeline deal
Lebanon and Iraq reached a preliminary agreement to reactivate the oil pipeline linking the Kirkouk oilfields in northern Iraq to the oil refinery near Tripoli.
The Iraqi side expressed readiness to dispatch technicians and engineers to Lebanon to check on the pipeline within the
next 10 days.
A joint Lebanese-Syrian technical team will start rehabilitating the Lebanese and Syrian sections of the pipeline so it would become operational on January 31 of the coming year,allowing Lebanon to start pumping Iraqi oil at the beginning of February.
Energy Minister Mohamad Abdel-Hamid Beydoun estimated that up to $3 million worth of repairs on the pipeline remained to be done,but added that the operation was not technically complicated.
Finance Minister Fouad Siniora said the deal will allow Lebanon to buy oil at a reduced price,and generate revenues for the Treasury on oil sales.He pointed out that the Syrian part of the pipeline,which passes through Homs and Banias,was ready to pump Iraqi oil.
The resumption of the oil flow is expected to cut Lebanon’s oil bill by at least $200 million.Rising crude prices increased this year’s energy bill to around $750 million,compared to around $550 million in 1999.
In parallel,Mr.Beydoun also announced that the ministry was preparing a tender for a 150,000 barrel-per-day refinery in Tripoli to replace the outdated one.The cost could reach $100 million and take two years to complete.
Additionally, Iraq has reportedly offered to restore the 20,000-barrel per day Tripoli refinery, increasing its capacity to 100,000 bpd – more than enough to satisfy Lebanon’s fuel consumption.
The excess crude would be traded on a goods-for-oil barter basis,giving Lebanon a much-needed outlet for its exports,while the revival of the refinery and Tripoli’s port could create thousands of jobs.The excess crude would be traded on a goods-for-oil barter basis,giving Lebanon a much-needed outlet for its exports.
Syria has agreed to supply Lebanon with natural gas in 2002 through a 50-kilometer pipeline. The pipeline will run from Tel-Kalakh in Syria to the Deir Ammar power station in Northern Lebanon, and will cost $12-15 million.It will also be connected to the power station in Zahrani in Southern Lebanon at a later stage.
Lebanon is estimated to need 12 million m³ of gas per day for local consumption,and has spent more than $500 million to build two modern gas-fired power stations in Tripoli and Zahrani.Syria is expected to provide 1.5 million m³ of
gas per day,with the rest coming from Egypt and Qatar.
Lebanon would also be converting to a cheaper and cleaner source of energy and save around 30 percent annually in fuel oil cost.