Power has been restored in Lebanon, officials say, after a 24-hour shutdown of the country’s energy supply, BBC reports.
The energy ministry says the central bank has granted it $100 m of credit to buy fuel and keep its power stations operating.
The power grid shut down on October 9, and officials said it was unlikely to restart for several days.
For the past 18 months, Lebanon has endured an economic crisis and extreme fuel shortages.
That crisis has left half its population in poverty, crippled its currency, and sparked major demonstrations against politicians.
A lack of foreign currency has made it hard to pay overseas energy suppliers.
The total outage began at midday on October 9 when Lebanon’s two biggest power stations shut down because of fuel shortages.
But in a statement on October 10, the state electricity provider said it is now delivering the same level of power as it was before the outage.
But even before the latest shutdown, people were often receiving just two hours of electricity a day.
October 9’s blackout meant the whole of Lebanon depended on private diesel-powered generators for power.
These, however, significant have become increasingly expensive to run amid the lack of fuel and cannot cover for the lack of a nationwide power grid.
The army has agreed to hand over some of its fuel to get the power stations working again until more can be imported.
BEIRUT: What full collapse of the national Electricity grid looks like. #Lebanon’s capital, once dubbed ‘Swiss of the East’, goes completely dark tonight due to corrupt political class & fuel shortages: pic.twitter.com/9FKGD7oij4
— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) October 9, 2021
State electricity returns in Lebanon but still maxes out at two hours in most areas
On October 9, Lebanon’s Energy Minister Walid Fayad told CNN Arabic that reports of a total power outage in the country were “exaggerated” and that the “situation is not worse than it was previously.”
Lebanon’s state electricity company has been supplying as little as two hours of power a day since July because of severe fuel shortages that have plunged much of the country into darkness.
Back-up generators – which the country has long relied on for power outages that typically lasted three hours a day – began to ration power, with most cutting supplies by over 12 hours a day. Many in Lebanon have stopped subscribing to generators because of skyrocketing electricity bills.
According to Bloomberg, Lebanon, which has been in the throes of an economic depression since late 2019, has the highest inflation rate in the world.
The country’s new government – formed by Prime Minister Najib Mikati in September – has been trying to negotiate the supply of Egyptian gas via Jordan and Egypt in order to alleviate the fuel crisis. Fayad told CNN that negotiations have advanced “greatly.”
Iran-backed Hezbollah has also facilitated multiple fuel shipments from Iran. It has sought to circumvent US sanctions on Tehran by transporting the fuel to Lebanon from Syria’s port city of Baniyas.
Meanwhile, there has been uproar on Lebanon’s social media over pictures that showed Fayad at a popular Beirut beach on October 9 while the country’s energy crisis made international headlines. CNN spoke to an eyewitness who confirmed the veracity of the photos.
The Deir Ammar and Zahrani plants ground to a halt Saturday, causing the state electricity network to collapse entirely for the second time this month.
The Mediterranean country is battling economic turmoil, and the cash-strapped state has struggled to import enough fuel oil for electricity production in recent months.
Energy Minister Walid Fayad said Sunday that the grid was back up and running.
“The network is back to normal, as it was before the gasoil ran out at Deir Ammar and Zahrani,” he said in a statement, implying production would revert to the previous few hours a day.
He thanked the army for handing over 6,000 kilolitres of gasoil, half of which he said went to each power station.
The state electricity company had said Saturday that a shipment of fuel oil was expected to arrive that evening and be offloaded at the start of next week.
Lebanon has witnessed rolling power cuts across the country since the end of its 1975-1990 civil war, but the economic crisis has made matters drastically worse.
Lebanese who can afford it subscribe to private generators to keep appliances on, but even their owners have started to ration power supplies due to the scarcity of fuel.
The international community has long demanded a complete overhaul of Lebanon’s loss-making electricity sector, which has cost the government more than $40 billion since the early 1990s.
The current crisis has left half its population in poverty, crippled its currency, and sparked significant demonstrations against politicians.
A lack of foreign currency meanwhile has made it hard to pay overseas energy suppliers.
Many Lebanese people already depend on private diesel-powered generators for power. These, however, have become increasingly expensive to run amid the lack of fuel and cannot cover for the lack of a nationwide power grid.
In a statement, Lebanon’s state electricity company also confirmed the shutdown of the two power plants, which together provide some 40% of the country’s electricity.
Al Jazeera reports protests in the northern town of Halba, outside the offices of the state power company, as well as residents blocking roads with burning tires in the city of Tripoli.
The country is also grappling with the aftermath of the Beirut blast in August 2020, which killed 219 people and injured 7,000 others.
After the explosion, its government resigned, leaving political paralysis. Najib Mikati became prime minister in September, more than a year after the previous administration quit.
Last month the militant group Hezbollah brought Iranian fuel into the country to ease shortages. Its opponents say the group is using fuel delivery to expand its influence.
The country’s leading electricity producer, Electricité du Liban (EDL), said the consignment would arrive on the evening of October 9 and be unloaded early next week. Another batch will arrive later this month. In addition, they will try to attract fuel from the military reserves, but the chances of doing so are slim.
Background: In early 2020, the influential Hezbollah organization in the Middle East and Lebanon announced that the country “will not accept the IMF’s imperialist methods in managing the country’s economy.”
Lebanon’s finance ministry failed to pay $1.2 billion in Eurobonds on March 9, making it the first sovereign default in the country’s history. From that moment on, Lebanon found itself in a deep economic and political crisis.
Currently, more than 60% of Lebanese live below the poverty line, with a record unemployment rate. At the same time, Lebanon has had no permanent government for almost a year. In the summer of 2021, Lebanon asked the international community to provide economic assistance to the country.
You may read more here about the aftermath of the Beirut explosion is just one of many overlapping crises blighting a country wracked by an ongoing economic crisis, mass unemployment, a fresh wave of coronavirus infections, and shortages of fuel and electricity — all of which is made worse by seemingly endless political paralysis.