Lebanon would still face a risk of increased electricity shortages due to the near depletion of fuel reserves at power plants, various sources say, despite the announcement of Iraq’s supply of fuel oil at a price indexed to the official parity rate of the pound against the dollar (i.e. 1507 LL/USD).
Some sources indicate, on condition of anonymity, that the oil from Iraq would not meet the specifications of the current Lebanese power plants and note that the previous delivery of fuel from that country following the explosion of 4 August last, had been distributed in particular for the benefit of the Lebanese Army instead of being able to be directly used.
In addition, a severe rationing programme has since been introduced in Lebanon, with only 12 hours of electricity usually for Lebanese regions and 8 hours for the capital on Friday. The Minister of Energy said he expected fuel reserves to run out at the end of March due to a lack of funding, even though 2 tankers are currently off the Lebanese coast. In addition, the outgoing government’s finance minister, Ghazi Wazni, said he had signed the opening of the letters of credit for the shipment of fuel, without the fuel needed for electricity generation being unloaded for the time being.
However, their cargoes could not be unloaded for the time being because they had not paid the price.
Some sources accuse the Bank of Lebanon of refusing for the time being to open the lines of credit necessary for this unloading, for lack of funds available. Until now, the available cash reserves financed the subsidy program for the purchase of basic necessities, such as medicines, flour or fuels. They are currently on the verge of being completely exhausted, the sources note. Another shipment of fuel oil is also expected to reach off the Lebanese coast by Saturday evening.
Outgoing Energy Minister Raymond Ghajar also addressed The President of the Republic Michel Aoun, outgoing Prime Minister Hassan Diab and House Speaker Nabih Berri to ask them to intercede in favour of approving an urgent loan of 1500 billion Lebanese pounds or $996 million at a rate of 1507 LL/USD.
Without this loan, the land of cedars could end up in the dark at the end of March.