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Will Egypt Turn Lights On in Lebanon?

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    Lights in Lebanon will stay off if Egypt wants too much for power - Tabourian With gas supply also in doubt, minister paints dark picture Daily Star, Lebanon
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 3, 2009
      Lights in Lebanon will stay off if Egypt wants too much for power -
      With gas supply also in doubt, minister paints dark picture

      Daily Star, Lebanon

      BEIRUT: Energy and Water Minister Alan Tabourian said on Monday that the
      widely hoped-for delivery of Egyptian electricity to Lebanon depends to
      a great extent on prices. "If the prices offered by the Egyptian side
      are acceptable then we will work on the delivery of this power to
      Lebanon. However, if the rates are too expensive then we won't buy
      anything," he told The Daily Star.

      A delegation from the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources is expected
      to visit Cairo on the Wednesday and Thursday to negotiate the rates of
      prospective electricity shipments from Egypt.

      Under a July agreement between Beirut and Cairo, Egypt is supposed to
      sell Lebanon between 150 MW and 450 MW of electricity to help fill the
      gap between power demand and generation capacity in this country.

      In principle, the power would be carried by high voltage lines crossing
      Jordan and Syria, which would also benefit from the Egyptian
      electricity. Some experts warn, however, that the Syrian grid is not
      equipped to transmit such amounts of power to Lebanon.

      "I don't want to buy expensive electricity from Egypt because this would
      increase the energy bill," Tabourian said.

      He added that even under the best-case scenario, the Egyptian deliveries
      would still only allow Lebanon an average of 20 hours a day of power,
      although this would be significant improvement on the current situation,
      which sees many parts of the country in the dark for 12 or more hours
      every day

      State-run Electricite du Liban's (EDL) current output is less than 1,600
      MW, while the actual need of the country is at least 2,300 MW.

      Lebanon also hopes to receive Egyptian natural gas, beginning in January
      2008, to fire the turbines at the Deir Ammar plant in Beddawi, near
      Tripoli, but the minister said that Cairo has slashed the amount to be
      delivered by half.

      He also dismissed the idea of alternative energy providing a solution
      for Lebanon.

      "There is no substitute to [thermal generation] plants. [Windmills] will
      not be sufficient to substitute for the deficit in electricity,"
      Tabourian said.

      He also reiterated that Lebanon needs to build more power plants.
      Experts estimate that Lebanon needs to invest close to $2 billion to
      build more power plants and modernize the existing ones.

      Tabourian also said that the ministry was looking into a scheme which
      would see ships equipped with power generators light up the country if
      Egyptian electricity and gas do not materialize.

      Commenting on the decrease in the price of crude on international
      markets, he said it was helping to reduce the deficit at EDL, which he
      warned would be approximately $1.5 billion for 2008.

      Most of Lebanon's power plants - including the Beddawi and Zahrani
      facilities designed primarily to use gas - are run by fuel oil and gas

      For his part, Higher Privatization Council President Ziad Hayek told The
      Daily Star that the chances of getting gas from Egypt are very slim. "I
      don't think we will receive gas from Egypt on time. We should consider
      other alternatives," he said.

      He actually proposed switching to coal-fired plants. "I admit that this
      is not feasible now. But we can consider this option in the long run,"
      he said.

      Hayek also advised overhauling the Zouk and Jiyyeh plants, adding that
      modernizing these facilities will only cost $150 million.



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