Russia to aid Lebanon in natural gas?

Jan. 5, 2011 at 8:17 AM

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- Lebanon is keen to tap into its domestic gas reserves by reviewing Mediterranean pipeline plans possibly with Russia's help, the country's energy minister said.

Russian energy company Stroitransgaz is among the 19 foreign companies investigating a natural gas pipeline along the Mediterranean coast, Russia's news agency ITAR-Tass reports.

The $360 million, 108-mile natural gas pipeline would run from northern Lebanon to the port city of Tyre. Gebran Bassil, the country's energy minister, said his country could alleviate many of its energy woes with the pipeline. Lebanon, he said, has a $1.5 billion deficit from fuel purchases.

Lebanon is at odds with Israel over who controls the giant Leviathan gas field in the Mediterranean Sea. Observers say Beirut may have to go to the United Nations to get a demarcation to its gas claims within its maritime borders.

Beirut says Leviathan extends into its territory and holds about 16 trillion cubic of natural gas and 4.3 billion barrels of oil. Shiite resistance movement Hezbollah has warned Israel to keep its hands off of Lebanon's energy resources.

Israel has vowed to retaliate for any attacks on its gas fields and the energy infrastructure that's expected to be developed over the next couple of years.

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