Lebanon's dwindling electricity supply at risk after warning plants could be shut down

Floating electricity plants run by a Turkish company produce one fifth of the country's electricity

People walk on the seaside promenade with the floating Turkish power station Karadeniz Powership Fatmagul (L) seen in the background next to Lebanon's Zouk Mosbeh power plant, north of the capital Beirut, on April 9, 2019. 
People walk on the seaside promenade with the floating Turkish power station Karadeniz Powership Fatmagul (L) seen in the background next to Lebanon's Zouk Mosbeh power plant, north of the capital Beirut, on April 9, 2019. 

A Turkish company threatened to switch off two floating power plants that provide about a fifth of Lebanon’s electricity, amid a dispute with authorities over corruption allegations and payments.

Lebanon’s Financial Prosecutor asked for Karpowership’s vessels to be seized pending an investigation into the renewal of the power supply contracts.

“We are alarmed at the actions taken by Lebanon’s Financial Prosecutor and firmly deny any violation of our contract or the law,” a Karpowership spokesperson said in a statement late on Saturday.

The company was owed around $100 million by Lebanon in July last year, and the figure has since risen. The government is struggling to pay suppliers due to the country’s economic meltdown.

Karpowership has urged the government to engage in talks and served a final notice that it will suspend its services, the spokesperson said. The Turkish firm’s ships provide 400 megawatts of power and have been anchored off Lebanon’s Mediterranean coast since 2013.

Lebanon experiences regular power cuts and Karpowership’s absence would increase the strain on the state electricity company, known as Electricite du Liban. The utility is already struggling to run its plants at full capacity because it can’t afford to import the fuel for them.

Karpowership is also mired in a dispute in South Africa. It won most of a government emergency-power tender to provide electricity for 20 years. But state utility Eskom Holdings SOC is concerned about the cost and length of the contract, Bloomberg reported on May 6.

Updated: May 9, 2021 02:24 PM

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