Russian companies are reportedly interested in investments in Lebanon’s energy and oil sectors, after the formation of a Lebanese government, the Saudi Asharq el-Awsat newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Russian involvement in the Lebanese political and economic files has recently been enhanced after 3 Lebanese political delegations visited Moscow in the last few months, said the daily.

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, a delegation from Hizbullah, head of the Free Patriotic Movement, MP Jebran Bassil have all visited Russia in the past few months.

Discussions between the Russian and Lebanse officials did not only focus on political files, but have also extended to the economic aspect. Russian officials expressed their will to invest in Lebanon, sources familiar with the talks told the newspaper.

Russian companies are interested in oil refining and electricity generation in Lebanon, in addition to investing in the devastated Beirut Port, and other sectors, it noted.

Lebanon has two oil refining facilities on its coast in the north (Al-Badawi) and the south (Al-Zahrani), and they were connected to two oil pipelines from Iraq and Saudi Arabia, but they stopped working due to war. Their tanks are now used to store oil derivatives.

During his visit to Moscow, Hariri agreed during talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin to “facilitate the ground for Russian companies to invest in Lebanon and Lebanese companies to invest in Russia.”

But the above can only be feasible when Lebanese leaders succeed at forming a much-needed government.

According to sources, the dire political situation in Lebanon hinders any opportunity for foreign investments. “The political and financial deterioration pose an obstacle to attracting investments, given that the investor needs a stable environment, a stable currency, and reforms, which do not exist at the moment,” they said.

Russian economic involvement in Lebanon began in 2018 with the formation of a “consortium” consisting of the French “Total” company, the Italian “Eni” and the Russian “Novatek” that won a contract for energy exploration and extraction in the Lebanese economic waters, and the Russian company’s share amounted to 20 percent of the alliance.

Subsequently, the Russian company Rosneft signed a contract with the Lebanese Ministry of Energy in 2019 to invest in oil storage tanks in northern Lebanon in order to invest in it.

Source Naharnet