BEIRUT (AFP) – Lebanon was plunged into a total blackout on Saturday (Oct 9) after two main power stations went offline because they ran out of fuel, the state electricity corporation said.
The Mediterranean country is battling one of the planet’s worst economic crises 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 its gasoil reserves running out, the Zahrani plant also stopped this afternoon for the same reason,” Electricite du Liban (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”.
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 Shi’ite movement Hezbollah has separately started hydrocarbon deliveries from Iran.
The state is also bringing in some fuel oil for power stations in exchange for medical services under a swap deal with Iraq.
The international community has long demanded a complete overhaul of Lebanon’s loss-making electricity sector, which has cost the government more than US$40 billion (S$54.2 billion) since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war.
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