Lebanon has apparently decided to go for the pipelines:

Lebanon will offer tenders next month for the construction of its first pipeline for liquefied natural gas, part of a strategy to revamp the country’s power industry and curtail electricity outages.

The energy ministry is completing preparations to invite companies to bid for work on the pipeline, which would link power stations along the country’s coast, said the minister’s senior adviser, Raymond Ghajar.

[…]

The ministry plans separate tenders for supplies of LNG and a terminal to receive imports of the fuel. It doesn’t expect to be able to produce offshore gas for several more years so is planning to import LNG, possibly from Qatar, the world’s biggest producer of the fuel, Ghajar said.

Of course, Lebanon already has a pipeline connecting the Beddawi power plant in the north to Syria. Now here is the concern, work on this pipeline was completed in 2005 and was supposed to start pumping Syrian gas on February 28 (14 days after the Hariri assassination). It was then the Syrian’s realized that they didn’t have any surplus gas to give Lebanon. At the moment, the pipeline pumps ‘Egyptian gas’ (well actually Egypt sends Syria surplus,so that Syria can send to gas to Lebanon).

In a 2008 interview, Fadi Abboud of the Lebanese Industrialists Associations had this so say about Arab energy dependency:

“anything to do with the Arab world is subject to the mood of the ruler, subject to politics.”

I agree. Unless supplies can be properly secured, I don’t believe we should spend billions on a gas infrastructure that may never be used.

In 2006, Lebanon actually had a viable idea:

Lebanon is to have a floating LNG receiving and regasification terminal to feed natural gas directly to the country’s power stations, Energy and Water Minister Mohammad Fneish was recently quoted as saying: “The Ministry of Energy is currently negotiating with a number of companies to establish a floating LNG plant which will convert liquefied natural gas from tankers to fuel, which would then be piped to power plants”.

An LNG plant will ensure security of future fuel supplies, which are increasingly vulnerable to instability in oil-producing countries. Imports of LNG could be purchased from Egypt, Algeria and/or Qatar. Natural gas has important economic benefits over fuel oil. In a study conducted for the Beirut governement in 2003 for the energy needs of the Zahrani and Beddawi power plants, using gas instead of oil saves both power plants $84m per annum. Now, with increase of oil prices, the saving would exceed $178m per year.

The plan, if implemented, would have brought in faster results since ships are already available.

Oh well, I guess we’ll just have to sit in the dark and wait until some plan is fully implemented.

LNG floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU): Minister Mohammad Fneish's proposal to solve Lebanon's power problems.

LNG floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU): Former Minister Mohammad Fneish's proposal to solve Lebanon's power problems.