Turkish barges will cut power to Lebanon when the contract ends


A Turkish company that used to cover almost a quarter of Lebanon’s electricity needs ceased operations on Friday after the end of its contract with the government.

Karpowership has been supplying Lebanon with electricity via two electric barges since 2013, Fatmagul Sultan and Orhan Beythat feeds the Jiyyeh and Zouk power plants.

The company had ceased operations in May due to late payments, but resumed electricity to Lebanon a month later as a gesture of goodwill.

“We are fully aware of the current energy crisis,” Karpowership said in a statement.

“During our eight years in Lebanon, despite all the challenges, we did everything we could to support the Lebanese people and government in overcoming the country’s fundamental challenges. We wish the Prime Minister, his government and the country all the best for the months and years to come, “the statement said.

The Lebanese electricity supplier Electricity du Liban used the barges to boost its supply after years of struggling with its ailing infrastructure to meet peak demand of more than 3,000 megawatts.

EDL, with a maximum production capacity of around 2,000 megawatts, has been operating at a loss for more than two decades, selling electricity at subsidized tariffs below production costs.

The company’s electricity supply has plummeted in recent months as the central bank rationed its fuel import subsidies to protect its dwindling foreign exchange reserves.

Since then, blackouts have worsened as EDL only supplies around four hours of electricity per day in many parts of the country.

Even private generators, which used to compensate for the rationing of the EDL, cannot meet the demand due to a lack of diesel.

The government on Wednesday asked the central bank to provide EDL with a $ 100 million loan to boost its electricity supply.

Energy Minister Walid Fayyad said the government is aiming to increase the electricity supply to EDL before deciding on the level of tariff increases as part of a comprehensive plan to reform Lebanon’s electricity sector.

Western powers have stated that financial support will depend on introducing reforms to fight corruption and clean up the country’s finances, including changes in the electricity sector that cost the Treasury Department $ 1.5 billion in 2019.

Since the financial crisis in Lebanon broke out in late 2019, the local currency has lost more than 90 percent of its value against the dollar. The World Bank described the financial crisis in Lebanon as one of the worst since the 1850s.

On Thursday, Jordanian Prime Minister So far Al Khasawneh said his government was ready to help Lebanon resolve its power crisis and meet its energy needs.

Mr. Al Khasawneh was the first high-level foreign government official to visit Beirut since a new cabinet took over after a year of political paralysis that accelerated the country’s financial crisis.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said the two had discussed efforts to import Egyptian gas and supply Lebanon with electricity from Jordan via Syria.

Updated: October 1, 2021, 10:22 a.m.


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