Lebanon in blackout as power stations run out of fuel

Published October 9, 2021
People shop in a grocery store under a portable electric light during a power cut near Bhamdoun, Lebanon. — Reuters/File
People shop in a grocery store under a portable electric light during a power cut near Bhamdoun, Lebanon. — Reuters/File

Lebanon was plunged into a total blackout Saturday after two main power stations went offline because they ran out of fuel, the state electricity corporation, Electricite du Liban (EDL), said.

The Mediterranean country is battling one of the planet's worst economic crisis since the 1850s, and has, in recent months, struggled to import enough fuel oil for its power plants.

State electricity in most places is barely available for an hour a day amid rolling power cuts, while the fuel needed to power private back-up generators is also in short supply.

“After the Deir Ammar power station was forced to stop producing power yesterday morning (Friday) due [to] its gas oil reserves running out, the Zahrani plant also stopped this afternoon for the same reason,” the EDL said in a statement.

This led to the network's “complete collapse without any possibility of restoring it for the time being”, it said.

It was the second such complete outage reported by EDL since the start of the month, after a similar incident last Saturday.

A source at the energy ministry told AFP that all was being done “to find a way out of the problem and ensure fuel”.

The EDL said that a fuel oil shipment was expected to arrive on Saturday evening, and was expected to unload at the beginning of next week.

Restoring electricity is one of the many tough tasks facing Lebanon's new government, formed last month after 13 months of political wrangling.

Several measures have been launched in a desperate bid to keep the lights on.

Lebanon has reached an agreement towards bringing Jordanian electricity and Egyptian gas into the country via war-torn Syria, while Shia movement Hezbollah has separately started hydrocarbon deliveries from Iran.

The state is also bringing in some oil fuel for power stations in exchange for medical services under a swap deal with Iraq.

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