Argus Media Limited

10/10/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 10/10/2021 07:59

Lebanon's main power plants shut due to lack of fuel

Lebanon's two main power plants have shut down because of a gasoil shortage, plunging the crisis-hit country into darkness.

Lebanon's main power provider Electricite du Liban (EDL) confirmed that Lebanon's Deir Ammar power plant in the north shut down on 8 October because of a gasoil supply shortage, while the Zahrani plant in the south went out of commission on 9 October for the same reason.

EDL said that the shutdown of both plants has reduced the total power supply to below 270 megawatts (MW), which "directly affected the stability of the power network and led to its complete outage, with no possibility of resuming operations in the meantime".

EDL has since said a 'Grade A' fuel oil shipment is scheduled to unload early next week at both the Zouk and Jieh power plants, which will raise production capacity to about 500 MW. The shipment comes as part of a tender that was awarded to Dubai's state-owned Enoc in August.

Both the Deir Ammar and Zahrani power plants run on gasoil, while the Zouk and Jieh power plants run on fuel oil.

The state electricity company said yesterday that it will secure gasoil from the Lebanese army's fuel reserves to operate the two main power plants temporarily. But it is not clear whether the gasoil from those reserves meets the specification needed by those power plants.

Lebanon is grappling with an ongoing economic and energy crisis which is proving to be one of the biggest threats to its stability since the 1975-1990 civil war.

The national currency, the Lebanese Pound, has lost over 90pc of its value since 2019, with 78pc of the population now below the poverty line, according the UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

But the fuel shortage brought the country to a near-standstill. Power cuts that used to last for between three and six hours a day are now leaving entire areas with no more than two hours of state power a day.

Efforts have been made recently to help alleviate the energy crisis, with the country signing a deal with Iraq in July to broker 1mn t/yr of heavy Iraqi fuel oil in exchange for goods and services it needs.

Lebanon has also received several Hezbollah-brokered gasoil shipments from Iran via Syria since September. Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said during a visit to Beirut on 8 October that Tehran stands ready to continue exporting oil products to Lebanon as long as it is required.

The new Lebanese government is also looking into the possibility of securing supplies of electricity from Jordan and natural gas from Egypt, again through Syria. But those deals are still likely months away.

By Sarah Raffoul