Power outage in the Lebanese capital Beirut on 3 April, 2021. (Photo credit: AFP)
Lebanon’s Energy Minister Walid Fayad announced on 29 December that the first phase of repairs to the Arab Gas Pipeline should be completed by the end of February to allow delivery of Egyptian gas to the Levantine nation via Syria.
Speaking to Reuters, the minister emphasized that the arrival of the much needed gas to Lebanon “hinges on a US clarification to Egypt that it will not be affected negatively by the Caesar Act.”
Passed in 2019 by the US Congress, the so-called Caesar Act sanctions companies, institutions and individuals – both Syrian and foreign – that conduct business with the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
Since at least mid-November, Cairo has been waiting to receive the required exemptions from Washington to sell natural gas to Lebanon.
This, despite the fact that it was US officials who facilitated a deal between Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon to provide the latter with much needed resources to fight a severe energy crisis.
On 28 December, the Lebanese Energy Minister also announced that the gas agreement with Egypt will raise the electricity supply to between 8 and 12 hours a day “at a significantly lower cost.”
Fayad went on to say that about 650 million cubic meters of gas will be brought to Lebanon through the pipeline annually, arriving at the Deir Ammar power station in the north of the country.
Despite these assurances, concerns still remain about the actual origin of the gas set to be pumped into Lebanon.
On 1 December, Israeli media reported that the natural gas to be sent to Lebanon from Egypt via Syria “will almost certainly include not just Egyptian but also Israeli gas.”
According to an investigation by The Cradle published on 13 October, Lebanon and Jordan’s Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movements have already warned against importing gas and electricity to Syria and Lebanon from Egypt and Jordan, given that the pipeline used would also carry part of the Palestinian gas stolen by the Israeli occupation.