The Caesar Act obstructs the implementation of Egyptian gas transfer to Lebanon via Syria
The French envoy for international support affairs, Pierre Duquesne, revealed that the agreement to supply Lebanon with Egyptian gas through Syrian territory has stalled so far, due to the lack of guarantees regarding the Caesar Act sanctions imposed by the United States on Syria.
The French official said that Egypt is still seeking assurances of lifting US sanctions to start exporting gas to Lebanon via Syria, according to the plan announced in September 2021, according to Reuters.
On September 8, 2021, the energy and oil ministers of Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Syria agreed on a road map to supply Lebanon with electricity and gas through Syrian territory, to solve an energy crisis that Lebanon is suffering from.
The French envoy explained that the plan hasn’t yet been transferred to the World Bank’s board of directors, which will evaluate reforms to the electricity sector in Lebanon, which are preconditions for the release of a $300 million loan to finance Egyptian gas exports to Lebanon over 18 months.
He indicated that he was visiting Cairo before traveling to Jordan and Lebanon this week, and to the United States later this month, in order to help as much as possible to overcome the various statements of principle.
Although nearly seven months have passed since it was signed, the agreement to transfer Egyptian gas to Lebanon via Syria is facing continuous obstruction.
The French official, whose country has been leading international efforts to save Lebanon for decades, said, “The pipeline’s technical obstacles to exporting Egyptian gas have been resolved, and there were no obstacles regarding gas pricing or quantity, but concerns about exposure to US sanctions against the Syrian government haven’t been resolved”.
He added, “My Egyptian counterparts told me today we want something specific… There is a problem with the exemption, and this concern must be dealt with not only on a political basis, but on a legal basis”.
The World Bank pledged to finance the Egyptian gas deal to Lebanon via Syria, on the condition that reforms be carried out in the Lebanese electricity sector.
The French envoy for international support confirmed that these reforms “can be implemented within two years, but they will face political resistance in a country that has been working for months under a transitional government without a president”.
The plan to provide Lebanon with electricity was put forward for the first time in the summer of 2021, but it faced several delays, and it is part of efforts supported by the United States to address the chronic shortage of electricity in Lebanon, using Egyptian gas that is provided through Jordan and Syria.