BEIRUT: The Baath Party regional head, Assem Qanso, Sunday called on decision-makers to launch oil extraction projects in the Bekaa Valley, accusing them of seeking to steal Lebanon’s oil wealth.
“We don’t have an Oil Ministry yet, and not extracting the petroleum is a big mistake,” Qanso said in a meeting at the Martyr Bassel Assad Cultural Center in Baalbek. “They have created a committee to steal the oil in which six sects were represented.”
Qanso- a holder of an engineering degree in Petroleum and Geology- was referring to the 2012 committee that was created by the Cabinet to negotiate deals with oil companies over extraction. The committee was chosen on a sectarian basis, with six members each representing a religious group in Lebanon.
“Let us give the companies 20 to 25 percent and extract our resources, because this will support our society,” Qanso said.
Qanso also touched on the water issue in Lebanon, saying that 50 percent of Lebanon’s water resources were wasted.
He called for “the construction of damns in valleys and artificial lakes as a preventive measure against the upcoming desertification wave in the region.”
Qanso highlighted an old proposal to build a water tunnel going from the coastal Zalka area to Chtaura, Bekaa. The project would generate enough potable water to cover Beirut’s and Zahle’s needs, according to Qanso.
“Because no one would [illegally] benefit from such a project, it was stopped and remains disregarded,” Qanso said, referring to corruption in the Lebanese government.
MPs Kamel Rifai and Marwan Fares also attended the meeting, in addition to the head of the ISF in the Bekaa Valley and the head of the Bekaa’s Union of Municipalities.