Total power outage in Lebanon as plants run out of fuel

Oil shortages force country's two biggest suppliers to shut down

Lebanon’s two biggest power plants have shut down because of oil shortages, plunging the country into a total blackout.

State electricity provider Electricite du Liban issued a statement saying that the power plant in Deir Ammar had shut down due to a complete lack of fuel on Friday, while the one in Zahrani ceased operations on Saturday.

It is the latest consequence of Lebanon’s two-year economic crisis, which has led to shortages of fuel and medicine, imports paid for using scarce foreign currency.

A senior employee at EdL told The National he was “shocked that people are shocked” at the news.

“We had warned about this before, we are out of fuel,” he said.

A fuel oil shipment is expected later on Saturday. It could be used to generate power from next week, the statement said.

For the past few months, Lebanon’s cash-strapped state electricity provider has been providing residents with zero to four hours of power per day.

The outages forced most residents to rely on costly private generators at a time of financial crisis. Hospitals have also complained of repeated power cuts, which have hindered their work and limited access to health care.

Ziad Al Zein, general director of the state-owned Zahrani Oil Facilities, said that high-level negotiations were taking place to provide the plants with fuel usually reserved for the local market.

There are two solutions to the blackout, he said. Electricite du Liban can either choose to wait until the arrival of a shipment of Iraqi oil on October 20 or the state can request that the Zahrani Oil Facilities provide them with their stocks.

“If we do that, how will I be able to feed the market?” he asked.

Every month power plants receive a fixed amount of fuel, rationed to provide the country with a few hours of power every day, he said.

After Lebanon’s contract with offshore Turkish electricity barges ended earlier this month, the country’s power plants have had to compensate for the lost power.

“Quantities that should last 25 days are being consumed in 8-9 days,” Mr Al Zein said.

Updated: October 10th 2021, 7:50 AM