Lebanon, Syria, Egypt sign billion-dollar gas deal
Lebanon, Syria and Egypt signed an estimated one-billion-dollar deal Friday for the transport of Egyptian and Syrian natural gas for sale locally, regionally and in Europe.
Lebanese Electricity and Water Resources Minister Mohammad Abdel Hamid Baydoun told reporters that "other Arab countries, particularly Jordan, are expected to join the project later."
The protocol agreement for the deal was signed here by Baydoun and his Egytian and Syrian counterparts, Sameh Fahmi and Maher Jamal, in the presence of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.
The agreement stipulates the creation of two companies. One, which will be called Orient Company and will build gas pipelines across the Mediterranean to transport initially some 12 millions cubic meters of natural gas from the Egyptian coastal city of El Arish to the Lebanese northern port of Tripoli.
The 400 kilometer-long undersea pipeline was expected to be built in three to four years, Baydoun said.
The second entity, the Arab Company, will construct a gas pipeline between Tripoli and Syria and eventually pipelines to re-export the gas to countries in the region, such as Jordan and Turkey, and unspecified European states.
Fahmi estimated the deal to be worth more than one billion dollars, of which $800 million is for the undersea pipelines and $200 million for the land pipelines.
"The cost is not important. This is a project ... for the present and the future," he said, noting the importance of natural gas to save the environment.
The agreement stipulates that the two firms will oversee the import and sale of the Egyptian and Syrian gas, and that energy ministers in all three countries will have to approve the identity of any new potential clients.
Baydoun described the deal as "one of the most important projects of Arab cooperation because it increases the economic capacities of the Arabs." "The fact of having an gas pipeline linking Egypt to Europe will have very positive repercussions," Baydoun said.—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse.