BEIRUT: Syria has no technical or logistical problems in resuming the shipment of Egyptian gas through its territories to Lebanon since all the pipelines remained intact and serviceable despite the 10-year-old war in the country, a government source revealed.
“Syrian officials assured the Lebanese delegation that visited Damascus Saturday that the Arab gas pipeline in its territories was not damaged by the war and can be activated once an agreement is reached between Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan,” the source told The Daily Star on condition of anonymity.
But the source said that technical teams will inspect the pipeline and carry out some maintenance work if the need arises.
They told the Lebanese delegation that Damascus is willing to fully cooperate and has no objections in allowing Egypt siphon LNG through the pipeline.
The Lebanese delegation was composed of caretaker Defense Minister and acting Foreign Minister Zeina Akar, caretaker Energy and Water Minister Raymond Ghajar, Caretaker Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni, head of General Security Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim and other top officials from the Energy Ministry.
Ghajar is due to hold talks with his counterparts in Syria, Egypt and Jordan in Amman on Wednesday to discuss the feasibility of resuming the shipment of gas to Lebanon.
A technical delegation will accompany the ministers and general managers in the ministries. The topic is gas only.
The talks are based on five points:
1) Reactivating the agreement signed between the Arab Gas Pipeline countries related to the supply of natural gas to the Lebanese Republic.
2) Ensuring the readiness of the infrastructure necessary to transport natural gas in each of the four countries and the necessary technical requirements.
3) Provide a clear work plan and timetable for the delivery of gas to the Lebanese Republic.
4) The logistical, technical, administrative, technical and financial requirements for the success of the project for each of the four countries.
5) Forming a technical team from the four countries concerned with the above four points.
A source at the Energy Ministry explained that the agreement needs updating and development especially with regard to quantities, beneficiaries and prices to ensure the safety of the facilities that will deliver gas to Lebanon.
This gas will feed the Deir Ammar plant, which is about 450 megawatts, and gives Lebanon more than 4 hours of additional electricity, thus the destination for Iraqi oil will go to the rest of the plants.
The time the Energy Ministry needs to complete these steps will be studied by a technical committee that will be formed after the four-way ministerial meeting in Jordan tomorrow, Wednesday.
The technical committee is the one who decides, based on the data it possesses, how much time the four countries need in order to put the agreement into effect.
“Certainly, there will be subsequent meetings of the technical committees that will be formed in the four countries. Upon completion of all these preparations, a four-way ministerial meeting will be agreed upon to sign the revival of the agreement and start implementing it.
Lebanon has previously imported gas from Egypt to operate the Deir Ammar plant exclusively from October 2009 to November 2011 based on the renewed agreement in 2007 between Egypt and Lebanon.
The operation took place by delivering about 30 million cubic feet of gas through the Homs-Tripoli link (32 km), after the gas reached the Syrian Al-Rayyan station.