Lebanon launched a tender Friday to import liquefied natural gas  in a bid to cut the country’s energy costs by $2 billion per year,  the caretaker energy and water minister announced Friday.
“This is a strategic and important subject, and irrespective if we are a caretaker Cabinet, we should not stop pursuing such vital projects,” Bassil said at a news conference at the Energy Ministry.
The project involves the construction of a facility to convert the LNG to natural gas. 
“Lebanon will only pay for the gas from the factory without bearing the cost of the construction of this plant, in accordance with a contract with the companies that sell gas in certain quantities,” Bassil explained, adding that this project would reduce Lebanon’s energy bill each year by $2 billion.
He added that if everything went according to plan, the plant could be built in 18 months and start producing natural gas once it is completed.
“We can sign the contracts in the third and fourth quarter of 2014,” the minister said.
The deadline for bids is Dec. 23.
Bassil said that the ministry would begin negotiations with the five companies that submitted the best offers in January 2014.
He added that Lebanon would not pay anything for the plant’s construction, which will be carried out on a build-operate-and-transfer basis.