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Lebanon: Fuel Crisis Worsens Amid Warnings of 'Social Explosion'

Lebanon: Fuel Crisis Worsens Amid Warnings of 'Social Explosion'

Tuesday, 2 March, 2021 - 09:45
Citizens protest against fuel shortage and power cuts, Beirut, February 28. (Photo: EPA)

Lebanon’s fuel crisis has worsened during the past two days. Following a fuel shortage, which caused long power cuts that exceeded 15 hours per day in Beirut and other areas, a scarcity of petrol and diesel exacerbated people’s sufferings.

During the past few days, angry protestors took to the streets, cutting roads in several areas of Beirut and torching tires and garbage containers, blaming the government for the severe power outage.

The fuel shortage is directly linked to the lack of liquidity with the government to import petroleum products in fresh dollars. The crisis will extend to all other services that need to be paid in dollars, as explained by the member of the parliamentary public works, transport, energy and water Committee, MP Faisal Al-Sayegh.

Sayegh noted that the crisis would further worsen as buying fuel after the end of March would require issuing a law to give Lebanon’s electricity company (EDL) emergency cash advance of hundreds of millions of dollars, as well as earmarking tens of millions of fresh dollars for the operation and maintenance of the Deir Ammar (North) and Zahrani (South) power plants, in dues claimed by Primesouth Company.

The two plants (Deir Ammar and Al-Zahrani) provide 55 percent of the total power production capacity in Lebanon, which is the equivalent of 900 megawatts and about 9 to 10 hours of supply per day.

Moreover, two Turkish ships - Fatima Gul and Orhan Bey - which Lebanon uses to produce electricity, could leave the Lebanese shores as the government failed to settle their dues, which amount to around USD 160 million. This means that Lebanon will lose 25 percent of the electricity production.

Asked about the agreement concluded with Iraq to supply Lebanon with one million barrels of fuel for electricity and 500,000 barrels of crude oil, Sayegh noted that the agreement had not been translated on the ground, adding that the Ministry of Energy was intending to make some amendments to it.

Sayegh warned against an imminent popular explosion, saying that fresh dollars could only be secured by foreign aid through the International Monetary Fund, which requires reform and the formation of a government. Therefore, no solutions can be envisaged before forming a government that would immediately work on reform, he underlined.

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