E.U. Extends Euro200 Million Loan to Fund Syrian Natural Gas Power Plant
LUXEMBOURG The European Union on Wednesday granted a loan of euro200 million (US$255 million) for a natural gas-fired power plant in Syria, the largest E.U. financing ever extended to the Mideast nation.
The European Investment Bank, the E.U.'s long-term financing agency, said the funds will help finance construction of a power plant at Deir Ali, 25 kilometers (16 miles) south of Damascus.
The project is part of an effort to help shift Syria from expensive oil-based electricity to a long-term reliance on natural gas, said EIB vice president Philippe de Fontaine Vive.
"Given Syria's natural gas reserves, the development of a regional gas market offers tremendous opportunities and challenges for the economic growth of the country," he said.
Since 2000, the bank has given a total of euro440 million (US$550 million) in loans to Syria for electricity, health, and private sector projects. In 2005, it plans to fund Syrian projects in energy, telecom, and water.
The E.U. investment in Syria, which sits between E.U. candidate Turkey and the Mediterranean Sea, is part of large-scale effort to encourage economic development in neighboring countries.
The Syrian government hopes to shift to gas-based electricity within the next 10 years, de Fontaine Vive said. Completing the plant should take three years.
Source: Associated Press