Lebanon averts nationwide blackout as state power plant secures fuel oil

Residents are increasingly reliant on expensive private generators

Lebanon's capital Beirut in darkness during a power failure. AFP
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Lebanon averted a nationwide blackout on Friday after the state-owned electricity company managed to secure fuel oil to run its power plants.

Electricité du Liban on Thursday had warned that the Zahrani power plant in south Lebanon, its last operating facility, was about to run out of fuel oil and would be out of operation by Friday afternoon.

The crisis was narrowly averted late on Thursday night, Energy Minister Walid Fayyad told The National.

“We secured the heavy fuel oil to operate the older power plants in Zouk and Jiyyeh,” Mr Fayyad said.

The crisis arose because EDL had not received confirmation about the arrival of a scheduled fuel shipment from Iraq in September, part of a barter agreement between Lebanon and Iraq that was renewed earlier this month.

Still, the fuel oil would supply only a “minimum level and avoid the full blackout, while we await a new shipment from Iraq, which should arrive early to mid September”, he said.

He did not specify from where or how the fuel oil for the other power plants was secured.

The fuel deal between Lebanon and Iraq, agreed to last August and renewed this month, stipulated that Iraq would supply Lebanon with a million tonnes of fuel in exchange for in-kind services such as ​​health care for Iraqi citizens.

Power failures are common in Lebanon, where residents for decades have had to cope with rolling electricity cuts.

A prolonged economic collapse that began in 2019 has now crippled the power sector, rendering state electricity supply almost non-existent, except for a couple of hours a day.

Warnings of complete power cuts are usually followed by the arrival of temporary, last-minute solutions.

Since 2019, residents have become increasingly reliant on expensive private generator subscriptions that power homes for the majority of the day.

In practice, those who have private generator subscriptions are unlikely to feel the effect of a state-wide blackout.

Updated: August 27, 2022, 10:25 AM