‘Baroudi was one of the main figures behind the pipeline project,’ says one project source. ‘Although he is not the only person involved in the project, his arrest is a major blow and has effectively brought everything to a halt.’ The four were arrested on charges of collecting money from illegal work, squandering public funds and concealing evidence of squandering.

The Energy & Water Ministry is seeking international companies to bid for the build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) contract to build a pipeline from Bedawi power plant in the north to Zahrani plant in the south. The 27-inch-diameter pipe, which will supply gas to six coastal power plants, will connect with a new 24-inch-diameter, 64-kilometre-long pipeline from the Syrian border, which will be completed by the end of August.

Belgium’s Tractebel Engineering International is consultant on the project (MEED 28:5:04).

Sources in Beirut say it is unlikely that any energy projects, including the planned privatisation of Electricite du Liban (EdL), will go ahead until after the presidential elections in November.