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Jordan grants Lebanon ‘initial approval’ to allow Qatari gas transfer through Aqaba port


Lebanon has been seeking oil and gas from neighboring countries to supply its power plants amid a dire electricity crisis. 

Lebanon made a request to Jordan to allow the transfer of Qatari liquified gas through Aqaba port, the Jordanian ministry of energy announced on Sunday.

Energy officials agreed earlier that the easiest way to proceed with the process would be through the gasification of liquefied gas in a place other than Qatar. 

In order to proceed, a Jordanian approval is required to start gasification of LNG in the kingdom’s territory.

Lebanese official sources confirmed in recent days that Energy Minister Walid Fayad “has started discussions there with his Jordanian counterpart.”

“Jordan responded with its initial approval,” the kingdom’s Energy Minister Saleh Al-Kharabsheh said, according to Jordanian radio Hala Akhbar. 

Al-Kharabsheh added that “Jordan informed the Lebanese side that it will study the quantities it wants to transfer, but in principle there are no problems.”

A shipment of Qatari LNG would be sent to Jordan through Aqaba port on the Dead Sea and transported by pipeline to Lebanon, via Syria. 

The Jordanian minister said his country is open to studying a proposal if Lebanon and other parties reach an agreement. 

Regarding the delivery of Jordanian electricity to crisis-hit Lebanon, the official stated that there is still maintenance work on the Syrian network, stressing that as soon as the network is ready, Jordan will supply Lebanon with its electricity needs.

Read also: Qatar, Lebanon ramp up talks to provide gas amid fuel crisis

This comes almost three months after Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon agreed to supply Egyptian natural gas to Beirut by pipeline through Syria and Jordan. 

However, the pipeline has been facing shortages and technical issues, which halted such operations following the eruption of the Syrian conflict some 10 years ago.  

Egypt is expected to start exporting 60 to 65 million cubic feet of gas per day to Lebanon by 2022, Egyptian Petroleum Minister Tarek El Molla said mid-October.

But maintenance work on Syrian infrastructure is essential to facilitate the gas entry to the Lebanese territories. 

Lebanon has been scrambling to secure fuel after the country’s two main power plants went out of commission due to severe fuel shortages that have left the nation in dire need of assistance.

The fuel crisis has debilitated much of public life, forcing the public to rely almost entirely on expensive private generators. Hospitals have struggled as well, fearing the safety of their patients.

Beirut’s request comes days after President Michel Aoun met with Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad Al-Thani in Doha on the sidelines of the opening ceremony of FIFA Arab Cup 2021, taking place in Doha until December 18.

During his visit, the Lebanese and Qatari sides discussed bilateral relations and the Gulf state’s support for Lebanon.

Aoun sought investment in different infrastructure projects, including electricity, which is cut for much of the day in Lebanon.

In recent talks, the Lebanese Energy Minister discussed with his Qatari counterpart Saad bin Sherida Al Kaabi ways to secure gas for Lebanese electricity plants during a meeting in Doha.

“With regard to securing gas for electricity plants, it was agreed on the importance of gasification of Qatari liquefied gas to feed the Electricité du Liban Corporation,” Fayad’s media office said in a statement last month. 

Jordan and Egypt are expected to witness a boost in power grids following an agreement reached last month to increase the electricity capacity between the two countries from 500 to 1,000 megawatts. This move will aid in supplying neighbouring countries, such as Lebanon with electricity.

Qatar is the world’s largest exporter of LNG and has been a major investor in Lebanon in previous years.

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