Lebanon, Syria to Construct $15m Gas Pipeline
Lebanon and Syria signed an agreement Friday to construct a $15 million pipeline to transport natural gas between the two countries, in a move that should help cut Lebanon's energy bill, reported the Daily Star newspaper.
Lebanon now spends about $400 million a year on fuel oil to power its electricity plants, but is looking to shift to cheaper, cleaner, and more environmentally friendly natural gas.
Energy and Water Minister Mohammed Abdel-Hamid Beydoun said that Lebanon would hold an international tender in the next few weeks for the construction of its part of the 45-kilometer pipeline, which will carry gas from Tal Kalakh in Syria to Deir Ammar near Tripoli, said the paper.
Under the agreement, each country is responsible for constructing the section of the pipeline in its own territory.
Beydoun did not specify how much of the $15 million Lebanon would have to finance. But since 12 kilometers of the pipeline will be in Syria and 33 kilometers in Lebanon, the greater cost is likely to be shouldered by Lebanon.
The pipeline is expected to take only a few weeks to complete.
Beydoun said that the agreement set a short timetable for the completion of the project because the ministry was hoping to begin producing gas-generated electricity before the end of the year.
The minister said Lebanon was eventually seeking to import 6 million cubic meters of gas per day from Syria through the pipeline.
A continuation of the pipeline will be constructed within Lebanon to carry the natural gas from Tripoli to the Zahrani electricity plant in south Lebanon, 130 kilometers away. The government will then construct gas networks within major cities, beginning with Beirut and then across the whole country.
Lebanon's demand for gas after the completion of the first phase in two years' time is projected to be 12 million cubic meters a day, half of which will come from Syria and just under half of which will be used to generate electricity, the paper said.
The other half "will be secured from other sources" said the minister.
Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan signed an agreement in January for the creation of a pan-Arab pipeline to transport gas from Egypt to the region.
Beydoun emphasized that the Syrian-Lebanese oil pipeline would not replace the earlier pan-Arab agreement.
"This is a continuation of the Egyptian-Syrian-Lebanese-Jordanian plan," said Beydoun. "We attach great importance to the four-way Arab cooperation and hope it will yield constructive results."
However, an energy ministry spokesman said that if Lebanon found gas sources cheaper than Egypt, it had the option to choose those. One option that has been discussed is the purchase of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from Qatar, but this could be more expensive.
Beydoun said that the pipeline would save Lebanon money by cutting the distance over which the gas is piped.
The paper added that Lebanon and Syria have yet to agree on the purchase price per cubic meter of gas, but are scheduled to sign a 20-year purchase agreement within 15 days which would set volumes and prices – Albawaba.com
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