Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan signed Sunday a billion-dollar deal for the transport and sale of natural gas between the four countries.
The agreement for the deal was signed here by Egyptian Prime Minister Atef Ebeid, his Syrian and Jordanian counterparts Mohammad Mustafa Miro and Ali Abu al-Ragheb, and Lebanese ambassador to Cairo Sami Koronfol, the official MENA agency said.
The protocol for the agreement was signed in Beirut last December by Egypt, Lebanon and Syria. Jordan joined later.
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 million cubic meters (420 million cubic feet) of natural gas per day from the Egyptian coastal city of El Arish to the Lebanese northern port of Tripoli.
The 400-kilometer (250-mile) long undersea pipeline is expected to be built in three to four years.
The second entity, the Arab Company, will construct a gas pipeline between Tripoli in north Lebanon and Syria and eventually pipelines to re-export the gas to countries in the region, such as Jordan and Turkey, and unspecified European states.
Egyptian Energy Minister Sameh 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 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 any new potential clients.
In December, Lebanese Electricity and Water Resources Minister Mohammad Abdel Hamid Baydoun described the deal as "one of the most important projects of Arab cooperation because it increases the economic capacities of the Arabs." — (AFP)
© Agence France Presse 2001.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )