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Algeria mulls refurbishing Lebanon's defunct oil refineries - visiting minister also eyes project to dig for crude (Daily Star)

Khalil, in town to strengthen ties, touts possibility of selling liquefied natural gas-

Algeria is interested in refurbishing two defunct oil refineries, digging for oil and selling liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Lebanon, Algerian Energy Minister Chakib Khalil said Thursday.

Khalil, in Beirut to bolster ties, said Algeria and Lebanon could cooperate in a number of energy fields.

"We are looking into the possibility of exporting LNG to Lebanon, considering opportunities to rehabilitate Lebanon's refineries and studying prospects for digging oil and gas wells," said Khalil, after meeting with Energy Minister Mohammed Abdel-Hamid Beydoun.

Algeria is a major exporter of gas and one of 11 countries that make up the oil cartel, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Lebanon is planning to buy natural gas from Syria this year in a bid to lower its oil import bill, which has topped $1 billion. But it is also looking into importing gas from other countries, as Syrian gas will not be sufficient to meet Lebanon's needs.

The government had proposed building an LNG plant at a Lebanese port to facilitate the purchase of LNG, but this plan has been shelved due to its high cost and a lack of feasibility studies. The government also plans to sell or refurbish two out-of-use oil refineries that used to receive Iraqi oil until the early 1980s.

Officials here have urged Electricite du Liban to stock up on fuel before a war on Iraq breaks out and raises oil prices.

A war on Iraq is expected to disrupt oil production and force OPEC, the world's largest oil cartel, to increase its capacity.

Khalil said OPEC members won't be able to meet market needs and can only raise output by 3 million barrels per day if war starts. "Right now only two members, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, will be able to increase their outputs," said Khalil.

Beirut,03 17 2003
Dania Saadi
The Daily Star
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