AMMAN: (From left) Egypt’s Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek El-Molla, Jordan’s Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Hala Zawati, Lebanon’s Energy Minister Raymond Ghajar and Syria’s Minister of Oil and Mineral Resources Bassam Tohme hold a joint press conference yesterday. – AFP

AMMAN: Energy ministers from Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon yesterday agreed a plan to bring gas and electricity to crisis-hit Lebanon at a meeting in Amman. Egypt’s minister for oil and mines Tarek al-Molla said that his country would “be ready to transfer gas (to Lebanon) as soon as possible” via the transnational Arab Gas Pipeline.

But damage to the pipeline and electricity lines during the decade of civil war in Syria means that energy supplies cannot start flowing before repairs are carried out. In the push to help revive the stricken Lebanese economy, the US has given rare approval for the Arab neighbors to escape punishment under sanctions targeting the Syrian regime.

Fuel and power shortages are one of the most acute symptoms of Lebanon’s economic collapse, paralyzing the economy and vital services like hospitals. The World Bank has labelled Lebanon’s situation the worst economic crash since the mid-19th century. Yesterday, Lebanese Energy Minister Raymond Ghajar said the country needed “600 million cubic meters of gas to provide 450 megawatts of electricity”.

The gas pipeline linking Jordan and Syria was hit in Aug 2020 in a blast dubbed a “terrorist act” by Damascus. Meanwhile “it will take several months to repair the damaged electric lines in Syria,” Jordan’s Energy Minister Hala Zawati said. Zawati added that the infrastructure is “almost ready, but there are still repairs” to do. Lebanon is also “working with the World Bank to ensure the financial resources needed to pay for energy imports from Egypt,” Ghajar said. – AFP