Electricité du Liban (EDL) announced on Monday that it is taking preventive measures to avoid a blackout until it receives the second portion of diesel allocated for June 2024.

In a press release, the public supplier explained that it had to resort to these measures to extend the period of energy production for citizens and maintain a continuous power supply, 24 hours a day, for vital installations such as the airport, the port, water pumps, and sewers to avoid total darkness.

Since July 6th, EDL has been forced to shut down a production unit at the Zahrani plant and completely shut down the Deir Ammar plant to preserve its stock. These measures will provide approximately four additional days of power until Thursday, July 11. The units will be reinstated once the second part of the planned shipment has been unloaded, thus restoring the supply.

The delay in delivery is attributable to a delay in the disbursement of funds by the Central Bank to EDL, preventing the public electricity supplier from paying for the diesel, according to the state-owned company.

It should be noted that the first part of the cargo allocated for June 2024 arrived in Lebanese territorial waters on June 27 and is currently anchored opposite the mouth of the Deir Ammar power station, with all necessary administrative and customs formalities fully completed, enabling it to unload its cargo. The second part arrived on July 4 and is currently at the mouth of the Zahrani plant, still awaiting the results of tests carried out in the United Arab Emirates and their verification by the monitoring company appointed by the Ministry of Energy and Water. The results have still not been sent to Lebanon due to non-payment.

Electricity generation in Lebanon currently relies on the Zahrani and Deir Ammar power plants, as the Jiyeh and Zouk plants require maintenance. These power plants depend on the monthly supply of diesel oil provided to EDL by the Ministry of Energy under the exchange agreement concluded between Iraq and Lebanon on July 23, 2021. Under this agreement, Iraq supplies fuel to Lebanese power plants on advantageous terms. The agreement, which came into force in September 2021, sets the quantity of fuel at 100,000 tons per month (80,000 tons usable by the power plants due to the swap). Since Iraqi fuel cannot be used directly in Lebanese power plants due to its high sulfur content, Lebanon purchases a compatible type of fuel from other suppliers, selected after a tender process, with these suppliers receiving Iraqi fuel in exchange.

Caretaker Minister of Energy Walid Fayad insists that the electricity sector is facing a local and international blockade. He assures that his objective is to maintain the sector, increase power from 500 to 1,000 megawatts to provide ten hours of electricity a day, and cover costs away from political tensions. Fayad recalled that the American envoy, Amos Hochstein, had linked the solution to the problem of importing electricity from Jordan and gas from Egypt to agreements with Israel concerning the southern border, a ceasefire, and the return of “displaced Syrians.”

Fayad also pointed out that certain political authorities are imposing a financial blockade on the electricity sector, stressing that the key to the solution today lies with the powers in place. He deplored the delay in the transfer of funds by the Central Bank to pay for fuel under the agreement with Iraq, stating, “This delay is affecting Lebanon’s supply of the fuel needed to run its power stations.”

The Minister mentioned that he had been working on a new contract with Iraq, which has been ready for a year, to increase the quantities of fuel supplied and consequently, the supply. This contract allows deferred payments to be made for six months. Fayad stressed that the Central Bank had not issued the guarantee needed to manage this contract despite the financial solvency of Electricité du Liban.

In this context, the Caretaker Minister of Economy, Amin Salam, wrote on X about the necessity to “accelerate bold national measures to accept Qatari renewable energy projects and implement them as quickly as possible since neither the generators nor EDL meet citizens’ needs.”