Lebanon’s EDL restores power with army and central bank aid

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Lebanon utility Electricite du Liban (EDL) restored power on Sunday 10 October following a massive outage that hit the country for 24 hours since mid-day Saturday.

The power restoration follows the utility securing some 6,000 kilolitres of diesel from the army to power the two power plants that had gone offline on Saturday due to fuel shortages. However, the diesel secured from the army is expected to last for only three days, according to Al Jazeera.

In addition to the fuel, EDL also secured $100 million in capital from the country’s Central Bank to import fuel.

The 24-hour blackout was a result of plants Deir Ammar and Zahrani being offline. These plants generate 40% of the country’s total electricity.

The shortage of diesel is a result of the lack of foreign currency in Lebanon hence the government is failing to purchase the required fuel to meet its energy demand.

As a result, EDL was producing less than 200MW of electricity but has plans to purchase more fuel to increase the capacity to 500MW, according to Al Jazeera. The utility says it expects to purchase an increasing amount of fuel in late October to further expand the amount of electricity generated. EDL has over the past year relied on cash advances from the Central Bank to import diesel.

The power outage that hit the country on Saturday did not surprise locals, as they have only been receiving two hours of electricity a day for the past few months.

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Marc Ayoub, an energy researcher at the American University of Beirut’s Issam Fares Institute, said: “It’s happened about 16 times over the past two weeks because generation is too little compared to what is needed for the grid to reach stability.”

Hospitals, workplaces, residential households/apartments, and other critical facilities have since resorted to diesel generators to meet their electricity needs.

Anna Foster – BBC Middle East Correspondent.

The ongoing energy crisis is reported to have driven 75% of the population into poverty with the situation hindering food supplies and health services.

In early September, military group Hezbollah negotiated for the supply of diesel and petrol from Iran into Lebanon, which has lasted the country for a month. However, Lebanon is also reported to have embarked on negotiations with the Egyptian government for the supply of natural gas to power its electricity generation.

With the country struggling economically, the Lebanese energy crisis requires the intervention of multilateral financial institutions to help the government raise the $1.6 billion required for a stable electricity network per annum.