Lebanon’s two main plants were forced to shut down after fuel ran out to leave the small country without government power.
- The state power company says a power plant in the south was shut down due to a fuel shortage
- Electricite De Liban says the closure reduces the total power supply to below 270 megawatts
- The country’s electricity minister says Lebanon will use military supplies of fuel for electricity
Lebanon is struggling with a crippling energy crisis that has worsened due to its dependence on fuel imports. Irregular power supplies have put hospitals and essential services in a state of crisis.
Lebanese are increasingly dependent on private operators, who are also struggling to secure supplies in the midst of an unprecedented collapse of the national currency.
Lack of diesel and fuel along with outdated infrastructure has exacerbated power outages that have been fixtures and fittings for years.
Blackouts, which used to last for three to six hours, could now leave entire areas with no more than two hours of state power a day.
On Saturday local time, the state power company said the Zahrani power plant in the south of the country was forced to shut down due to lack of fuel; the main plant in the north was closed on Thursday.
Electricite De Liban said the shutdown reduces the total power supply to below 270 megawatts, meaning a major drop in grid stability.
It said it would reach out to fuel plants in the north and south of the country to see if they can provide enough fuel to bring power back.
But the company, which is responsible for most of the government’s debt, relies on credit from the country’s central bank, which is struggling with dwindling reserves.
The government has gradually raised the prices of fuel and diesel as the central bank cut back on subsidizing dollars for imports, increasing the hardships faced by the Lebanese.
Distributors of gas containers used for cooking and heating stopped operating, saying subsidy cuts among black currency fluctuations meant they were selling at a loss.
Lebanon is turning to military aid
The energy sector has been a major drain for the Treasury for decades.
The power company has annual losses of up to $ 2 billion and has cost the state more than $ 54 billion over the past few decades. Energy sector reforms have been a key demand from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
To help alleviate the crisis, Lebanon has received fuel shipments from Iran via Syria.
Iraq has also signed a swap deal with the government that has helped Lebanon’s state power company remain operational for several days.
The new Lebanese government is also negotiating supplies of electricity from Jordan and natural gas from Egypt, including through Syria. But these deals are likely to take months.
Lebanon’s electricity minister Walid Fayad told the Associated Press that the new closures leave his government in “crisis management for a few days.”
He said the government would turn to the military to obtain emergency fuel supplies from its warehouses “while we await the fuel load from the Iraqi deal and swap.”