Lebanon's mountains have steep torrents running down its slopes. Average rainfall in Lebanon is 1 meter (40 inches) annually. For a tiny country of 4,000 square miles (10,000 Square Kilometers), this amount of water and the high altitudes should be a recipe for two environmentally-friendly economic benefits:
- Lebanon could be selling water to its neighbors.
- Lebanon could be a major generator of clean electric power, sufficient for its own consumption and even to sell to others.
But Lebanon is still a primitive backwards 19th century country when it comes to many things, one of them being electric power. It still rations it to 8 hours a day, with the consequent politically-connected mafia of diesel generators selling electricity in the neighborhoods and villages an towns across the country. Every Lebanese - except the terrorist organization Hezbollah of course which doesn't pay any of its bills - pays two electric bills: One to the State, and one to the local Mafioso. Same thing with water, phone, Internet etc.... The entire infrastructure of the country is a two-tiered system: An incompetent decrepit corrupt one owned by the State, and an incompetent decrepit corrupt one owned by the political Mafia. Together, they barely are able to serve the country's pathetically small population of 3.5 million users.
So now, instead of investing into a couple of well-placed dams along the steep slopes of the mountains, electricity is generated by an archaic generator along the Mediterranean coast - which spews highly polluting fumes and smog into the air over Beirut, and pollutes the Mediterranean with dangerous chemicals. In addition, there are literally millions of small diesel-powered generators around every corner of this dysfunctional country. Then, the Lebanese suddenly discovered - only after Israel and Cyprus made significant strides in drilling for oil on their continental shelves - that they too can drill for oil, just to spite their "enemy" Israel. The Lebanese love these shady deals of contracting foreign companies because the politicians can siphon off kickback money into their own pockets. Fortunately for the environment, the Lebanese government is light years away from exploiting oil off the Lebanese coast because of corruption, bureaucracy and highly perfected incompetence.
But, now, the Lebanese government and its Minister of Electricity, one Gebran Bassil who became Minister - not because of any expertise or merit he has, but only because his father in law Michel Aoun wanted him to be a Minister - has a new idea. (Politics in Lebanon is a family business and political parties are really like farms where politicians are bred and raised like pigs and cows, then are released into the political arena when they become of legal age.)
His idea is to rent ships from foreign companies that generate electricity. This is a golden opportunity to siphon off kickbacks and make money for himself (See below how he denied an American company from bidding on the deal because Mr. Bassil hates the US and was instructed by his Hezbollah bosses not to make any deal with US companies). And to top off the deal, Prime Minister Miqati - who is a Sunni Muslim billionaire and owns all his businesses in the US - is satisfied with the ship-renting deal. I think the Americans should punish him by harassing his businesses in the US. In fact, Miqati is a Syrian regime stooge and he should be subjected to the same sanctions now imposed on the murderers of the Syrian Baath regime.
Welcome to Lebanon, the land of incompetence, corruption and bureaucracy. Welcome to Lebanon, one of the environmentally-unfriendly countries on earth, where you have a much better chance of getting killed by a bomb, a car accident (they drive like hysterical lunatics in Lebanon) or cancer (from pollution) than being struck by lightning.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati said in remarks published on Friday that he was “relieved” by the outcome of the bidding process conducted by the ministerial committee assigned to study the offers of companies to provide power-generating ships.
Mikati also told Al-Liwaa newspaper that the committee carried out transparent tenders with the companies “which led to the reduction of the price.”
He also said that if everything went as planned, “the first ship would arrive the end of July or the beginning of August.”
In March, the cabinet agreed to rent power-generating ships for a period of two years renewable up to one year.
Energy Minister Gebran Bassil denied US company Weller Machinery’s statement that its bid to provide-power generating ships was ruled out before it could present its final offer.
“The ministerial committee studying the power-generating ship tenders asked the company more than once for their [final] bid and there was no response, especially after we insisted that they reduce the price,” Bassil told Al-Jumhuriya newspaper in comments published Friday. He also said that company tried to “stall” and avoided giving a final and definite price.
The company’s director general had told the daily that “the meeting with the committee lasted for only half an hour before Mikati asked us to reconsider the offer… but after three hours of waiting, the company’s delegation was surprised that the committee finished its work and left the Grand Serail without informing it of [the result] or even apologize.”
The company also considered the tenders to be a “pre-planned deal” and the discussions to be “mere camouflage,” adding that its offer was very “tempting.”