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Egypt ready to start natural gas exports to Lebanon

Reuters/Essam Al-Sudani
Egypt's minister of petroleum and mineral resources said it was ready to supply Lebanon as soon as sign-offs were in place
  • Deal to supply 650m cubic metres each year needs World Bank funding
  • Gas to be transported via Syria, so US sanctions are a concern too
  • Project could provide 4 hours of power a day, easing energy crisis

Egypt can start exporting natural gas to Lebanon as soon as the project gets the go-ahead, Egypt Today has reported, citing the minister of petroleum and mineral resources Tarek El-Molla.

The Cairo government signed an agreement in June to supply 650 million cubic metres of natural gas each year to Lebanon.

The project needs World Bank financing to move forward – and because the gas is due to be transported via Syria, Egypt must be excluded from US sanctions on Damascus.

El-Molla said his government was ready to supply Lebanon, where power cuts are a daily occurrence, as soon as these sign-offs were in place.

In June, the Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah reported that the 650 million cubic metres would supply northern Lebanon’s Deir Ammar power station, according to energy minister Walid Fayad. It would provide about 450 megawatts of electricity – equivalent to four hours of power supply a day.

The United States imposed sanctions on Syria in 2020 “to compel the government of Bashar al-Assad to immediately halt the wholesale slaughter of the Syrian people and actively work towards transition to a democratic government in Syria”. It targets industries including energy.

Washington has offered reassurances that it supports regional efforts to help Lebanon deal with its energy crisis and is reviewing such agreements to ensure no sanctions are triggered.

The US has just brokered a deal between Lebanon and Israel on their maritime border. The agreement – described by Lebanese president Michel Aoun as a “historic achievement” – opens the way for offshore energy exploration.