Egypt still waiting for US clearance to transfer energy to Lebanon
Despite ongoing assurances from US officials, Beirut has been waiting for months for the start of energy transfers from Egypt and Jordan
By News Desk - April 16 2022

(Photo credit: AP)

During a visit to Egypt on 14 April, Lebanon’s Energy Minister Walid Fayyad revealed that the US-sponsored plan to import gas from Egypt through Syria is still waiting for guarantees from Washington to exempt both Beirut and Cairo from the so-called Caesar Act.

The Caesar Act, which was passed in 2019 by the US Congress and imposed harsh economic sanctions on Syria, was also meant to prevent Lebanese cooperation and trade relations with the government in Damascus.

Following talks with Egypt’s Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Tarek al-Mulla Fayyad, also revealed that Lebanon is still waiting for the necessary financing from the World Bank.

“[Importing gas from Egypt] is currently in the hands of the World Bank to secure the necessary funding,” the Lebanese minister said, adding that the White House needs to provide guarantees “so that the repercussions of the Caesar Act do not have a negative impact on the project of transporting gas to Lebanon through Syria.”

Meanwhile, the Egyptian energy minister reaffirmed the pledge of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to support the Lebanese people.

“The gas supply agreement represents an Egyptian contribution to addressing the energy problem in Lebanon,” Mulla said, underlining the need to complete the remaining procedures to start the energy transfer process.

In February, Egyptian and Syrian technical teams completed repairs on the gas pipeline that connects Lebanon to Syria, with reports indicating the pipeline was ready for the extraction of Egyptian gas headed for Lebanon.

A month earlier, Lebanese officials claimed they had received assurances from Washington that US sanctions on Syria would not affect Beirut’s plans to import gas and electricity from other countries in the region.

According to the office of Prime Minister Najib Mikati, a letter was received via the US ambassador to Lebanon, Dorothy Shea, from the US Treasury “to answer some of the concerns the Lebanese authorities had regarding regional energy agreements that the United States helped facilitate between Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt.”

In a speech on 8 March, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah warned of the lack of assurances from the US on this energy-sharing project.

“Have the Lebanese officials obtained [something] from the Americans who are only offering false promises? Until this moment, the US State Department has not given Egypt and Jordan documents exempting them from the Caesar Act,” Nasrallah stated.

On 3 April, a joint statement issued by Hezbollah and the Amal Movement called on the Lebanese government to immediately accept the offer from the Islamic Republic of Iran to build two modern power plants in Lebanon.

Iran has also offered to sell Lebanon the fuel to power these plants, with sales transacted in Lebanese liras.

Currently, Lebanon’s fuel suppliers only accept major foreign currencies, such as dollars and euros, which has created hardship given the Lebanese Central Bank’s dwindling foreign currency reserves.

Since 2019, Lebanon has been facing a complete economic meltdown that has forced the shutdown of major power plants, forcing citizens to rely almost entirely on private generators for their energy needs.

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