Electricity is still drastically rationed in Lebanon

Posted Oct 12, 2021 5:36pmUpdated October 12, 2021 at 6:07 p.m

For the Lebanese, this is a surprise every day. How many hours of electricity can Electricité du Liban (EDL) distribute today? The power outage lasted more than 24 hours last Saturday. The shutdown of the country’s two main power plants due to lack of fuel reserves caused the entire grid to collapse.

The state’s power generation and distribution agency runs out of foreign exchange to get supplies abroad, while Lebanon has been mired in an unprecedented liquidity crisis for the past two years. So, the country’s power plants operate under regimes dependent on fuel supplies.

The grid was finally restored on Sunday thanks to a donation of diesel fuel by the Lebanese army to the country’s two major power plants in northern Lebanon, as well as the unloading of a shipment of fuel oil awaited from two ships -central anchorage not far from Beirut, the capital .

Two to four hours of electricity per day

But this is not an isolated case. “Since the beginning of the summer, 15 outages of this type have already occurred and there is a risk that they will happen again without a long-term solution,” confirms Marc Ayoub, an energy researcher at the American University of Beirut.

Otherwise, the situation for users is hardly more enviable. “The daily supply of government electricity in the country varies on average between two and four hours,” says the researcher. “We don’t really feel the effects of power outages anymore, given the little electricity we’re allotted each day,” says a Beirut resident in despair.

Private producers, usually used as a stopgap measure when cuts are made, are also failing as shortages also affect imported heating oil, which has skyrocketed in price on the black market.

Iranian fuel oil over Syria

This critical situation is jeopardizing the operation of certain basic services such as running water and hospitals. Several international and local actors have launched initiatives to respond to the emergency. Notably, the UN announced $10 million in aid to health and water services to enable them to cope with the shortage of fuel oil for generators, leaving “thousands of families exposed to a humanitarian crisis.”

For its part, Lebanese Hezbollah has brilliantly revealed a partnership with Iran to import fuel oil through Syria, outside of state channels and despite American sanctions against Tehran. Around 10 million liters of fuel have already been distributed free of charge to certain key service providers and at preferential rates to the private sector. Around 70 million liters still have to be transported from Syria.

For its part, the United States responded to this affront by giving Lebanon the green light to reactivate an agreement to transport Egyptian gas for power plants and Jordanian electricity through Jordan and Syria, despite US sanctions against Bashar Al Assad’s regime. There are still many unknowns in this project.

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