The return of Egyptian gas in Lebanon … urgent aid or relaunch of the Arab gas pipeline?

Quadruple Agreement Pump back the Egyptian gas through pipelines in Lebanon, through Jordan and SyriaEleven years after the cessation of the activity of one of the main power plants in the country, bogged down in a severe financial and economic crisis. Is the issue within the framework of aid to Lebanon or is it a broader relaunch of an ambitious project called the Arab Gas Pipeline?

This project was rich in contracts for more than two decades, during which Egyptian gas was supposed to be transported in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, e in a later stage in Turkey, and from there in Europe, in a network up to 1,200 kilometers long.

Political conditions fluctuated and levels of gas production fluctuated in Egypt: The project had been stopped ten years ago, but today it is back in the limelight with the announcement of the relaunch of an old agreement to supply Lebanon with Egyptian gas through this pipeline, to manage the Deir Ammar power plant in the north of Lebanon.

The construction of the project took place in phases: the first phase between Al-Arish and Aqaba, Jordan, was completed in July 2003, with a length of 265 km, with a capacity of 350 billion cubic feet per day, and the second phase from Aqaba to Rehab in Jordan, completed in 2005, with a length of 390 km.

The third stage goes from Jordan to Deir Ali, near Damascus, with a length of 324 km, and from there to Homs in central Syria. It was completed in 2008 and Egypt was pumping 90 million cubic feet per day of gas through it in Syria.

The fourth stage was supposed to connect Homs to the Turkish pipeline network, to carry the Egyptian gas in Europe, but the project failed and only the 15-kilometer link between Aleppo and Turkey was completed. Two links were established in parallel, one between Homs and Banias within Syria, and the other between Homs Beddawi in the north of Syria. Lebanon.

The connection with Lebanon was completed in 2009 and started pumping 28 million cubic feet of gas per day to run one of Deir Ammar’s two power plants, through a clearing process with Syria, for Egyptian gas to reach Damascus, while Syria would supply Lebanon with Homs gas. The quantity would have had to gradually increase to 60 million cubic feet for the other Deir Ammar plant to operate, but exports stopped after a few months.

As of March 2012, Egyptian gas exports in Syria has come to a complete standstill after a series of gas pipeline explosions in the Sinai and due to the war in Syria.

Another decisive factor was the decrease in Egyptian production available for export, especially with the growth of domestic consumption, so much so that in that period Egypt went from exporting gas in Israel to import it from it.

The turning point was the major gas discoveries in Egypt, in in particular the Zohr field in 2014, which returned Egypt to a state of gas self-sufficiency starting from September 2018.

Egyptian production currently reached 7.2 billion cubic feet per day, while its average domestic consumption last year was 5.8 million cubic feet, so Egypt has a large surplus available for export. which exceeds one billion cubic feet, more than enough for the needs of Jordan, Lebanon and perhaps Syria.

After the American agreement to exempt the export of Egyptian gas in Lebanon from the sanctions of the Caesar Act on Syria, there remains only the problem of the rehabilitation of the pipeline after many years of suspension and sabotage operations.

But technical obstacles remain the least of the problems, if political and security obstacles finally open the way in this east in flames.

Gamal Al-Qalyubi, a professor of oil and energy engineering and a board member of the Egyptian Petroleum Association, said there were ambitions that began in 2000 in the Egyptian country to push the quantities of gas produced across the Mediterranean to serve the Lebanese economy in primis.

He explained that the Lebanese economy will benefit from Egyptian gas to generate electricity and run factories.

He pointed out that Egypt has a strong infrastructure to liquefy natural gas and use it, in how much it has two gas liquefaction plants, 11 petrochemical complexes and 21 fertilizer factories.

He explained that the Egyptian state aspires to have added value from the gas surplus, in one moment in which he is committed to in agreements with neighboring countries.

He said that Egypt will have room to increase the added value of gas, not only by pumping it, but also in related industries, as Egypt seeks to be among the countries that monopolize the natural gas liquefaction industry, and there are now six countries controlling a 1.6 trillion dollar market, and the second point seeks to increase its petrochemical and fertilizer capacity through the use of gas in excess.

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