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Friday, December 3, 2021

Qatar in talks with Lebanon to provide LNG amid fuel crisis


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

Lebanon and Qatar are in talks of possible cooperation as Beirut scrambles to secure fuel amid a severe power crisis, an official source reported. 

The Lebanese Minister of Energy Walid Fayyad met on Friday with the Chargé d’Affairs of the Embassy of Qatar in Beirut Ali Al-Mutawa.

The two officials “discussed bilateral relations between the two countries, especially cooperation in the fields of oil and gas, and the possibility of Qatar’s support for Lebanon with liquefied natural gas [LNG] and its re-gasification,” a statement by Lebanon’s energy ministry said.

“The discussion dealt with the issue of oil exploration and the possibility of Qatar’s participation in the second licensing cycle to explore oil and gas in Lebanese marine waters,” the statement said, noting follow-up meetings are expected.

Lebanon currently has no centrally generated electricity after fuel shortages forced two of its main power plants, which had been generating 40% of the country’s energy, to shut down in July. 

Read also: Lebanese PM Mikati in talks with Qatar and other Arab countries

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.

State-run producer Electricite du Liban (EDL) has been seeking to purchase fuel to supply the power plants despite its financial struggles.

At the height of the crisis earlier this year, Hezbollah received shipments of Iranian fuel into the country through Syria.

Lebanese authorities also secured a deal with the Iraqi government to exchange medical services in return of high sulfur fuel.

Meanwhile, Fayyad is said to be in talks with Egyptian Minister of Electricity Mohamed Shaker, to facilitate a plan to provide Lebanon with Egyptian natural gas through Jordan and Syria. 

Lebanon’s recently-appointed Prime Minister Najib Mikati said one of his top priorities is to resolve the country’s crippling fuel crisis, and to resume negotiations with the International Monetary Fund to aid the country’s dire economy.

However, Lebanon is still facing hours of electricity cuts that have exacerbated an unprecedented economic and financial crisis.

Three-quarters of the population have been plunge into poverty as the Lebanese pound loses almost 90 percent of its value. 

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