Syria Wants to Speed Up Gas Supply to Lebanon

April 15, 1999 - 0:0
DAMASCUS The oil ministers of Syria and Lebanon on Tuesday discussed ways to speed up the supply of 1.1 billion cubic meters of Syrian gas per year to feed Lebanon's power plants. Officials said that Mohammed Maher Jamal of Syria and Sleiman Traboulsi of Lebanon agreed to give Lebanon's electricity authority a mandate to award the project to one of the international firms which have submitted bids.

The two ministers reviewed a report prepared by the joint Syrian-Lebanese technical committee on the gas supply and agreed to entrust the board of directors of Lebanon's electricity authority with a review of offers presented by international companies and to take the appropriate decisions, one official said. The project, approved previously by Syria and Lebanon, includes construction of a pipeline and pumping stations to carry the Syrian gas to Lebanese power generating plants.

The gas would be shipped from a gas gathering plant in Homs, some 160 km (100 miles) north of Damascus to Lebanon's Badawi electricity plant near the Lebanese coastal city of Tripoli. The gas would then be directed to the Zahrani electricity generation plant south of the Lebanese port city of Sidon, the officials said. Each of the plants, has a generation capacity of 450 megawatts.

Oil industry sources said the pipeline would carry initially three million cubic meters of Syrian gas per day and the amount could be increased in accordance with Lebanon's needs. Syria, which produces around 10 million cubic meters of gas per day, is expected to increase output to over 18.2 million cubic meters by 2000, oil industry sources said. Syria also produces around 600,000 barrels of crude oil per day of which some 320,000 bpd are exported.

Officials said the Syrian and Lebanese ministers discussed during their talks on Tuesday the possibilities of cooperation in the exploration of oil and gas in Lebanon through Syrian Petroleum Company (SPC) which has good experience in exploration and production of oil and gas. Officials said the two ministers met Syrian Prime Minister Mahmoud Zu'bi later to brief him on the outcome of their talks.

Syria, the main power broker in Lebanon where it has some 35,000 troops, has an agreement with its Arab neighbor calling for cooperation in all economic, military and political fields. (Reuter)