Lebanon hopes to resume gas imports from Egypt

Lebanon hopes to resume natural gas imports from Egypt, its energy minister said on Thursday after a visit to Egypt.

Egypt stopped exporting gas after the 2011 uprising that unseated leader Hosni Mubarak hit its economy, but it resumed exports at the end of last year.

Lebanese energy minister Cesar Abi Khalil said in a statement that Lebanon hoped to resume imports under a gas supply contract with Egypt, agreed in 2009, but did not give a timeframe.

Lebanon is also hoping to start natural gas production itself and a consortium led by France’s Total is due to begin drilling for natural gas in Lebanese waters by the end of the year.

Egypt is betting that its strategic location straddling the Suez Canal, its land bridge between Asia and Africa and its well developed infrastructure, including an extensive pipeline network and two idle gas liquefaction plants, will help turn it into a gas trading and distribution centre for countries in the region and beyond.

A series of large natural gas discoveries were made in Egyptian waters in recent years, including the largest gas field in the Mediterranean, Zohr.