Iran and offered to rehabilitate Lebanon’s refineries and invest in water projects and gas supplies in the east Mediterranean country and officials from the two countries will discuss the offer today, the Lebanese energy minister’s senior adviser said.
Lebanese Energy Minister Gebran Bassil, a member of a political bloc that is supported by Iran, is due to meet his Iranian counterpart Majid Namjoo in Beirut today to discuss cooperation, Raymond Ghajar said in an interview in Beirut.
“They are interested to further investigate what they can do in the water sector, the dams, the electricity sector, gas supplies and the rehabilitation of the refineries,” Ghajar said. “These are massive, mega projects,” he said, without explaining the nature of the envisaged cooperation.
Lebanon has two main political blocs — one backed by Iran and Syria and is led by the Hezbollah group, which controls much of southern Lebanon and has representatives in the country’s government and parliament, and another alliance has U.S. and Saudi Arabian backing. Lebanon continues to suffer from power shortages that can reach 15 hours a day since the 15-year civil war that ended in 1990 and the war with Israel in 2006.
Iranian officials said they were looking into helping with the rehabilitation of Lebanon’s two refineries, which currently are only used for storage, he said. Iran has also proposed to supply Lebanon with natural gas, in cooperation with neighboring Syria and Turkey, said Ghajar.
“The gas will probably go through Iraq and Syria, or through Iraq, Turkey and Syria,” he said.
Iranian embassy officials were not available for comment when contacted by Bloomberg today.
Iraq agreed in August to allow Iran to export natural gas through pipelines running across its territory toward Syria.
Lebanon currently imports natural gas from Egypt, he said.
Natural gas imported from Egypt is not covering demand. Shortages this summer encouraged Lebanon to seek alternative sources for natural gas, he said.
Lebanon’s energy minister was in Tehran a few days ago where he discussed energy cooperation with Oil Minister Masoud Mir Kazemi.
In 2009, Lebanon’s average capacity and imports were 1,500 megawatts, while demand peaked in the summer at 2,450 megawatts, according to a government report.