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BDL must release funds to buy fuel oil: EDL

The EDL building in Beirut, Nov. 8, 2019. (The Daily Star/Mohamad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s state electricity company on Saturday renewed its warning that the country will imminently face total blackout if the Central Bank fails to buy fuel oil to run the power plants that are running out of fuel oil.

In a statement to the press, Electricité du Liban reminded that it has repeatedly cautioned for several months ago of the danger of getting into the prohibited with regard to feeding with electricity output, and that it has appealed to all concerned parties with the sensitivity and delicacy of the situation, especially in terms of the need to approve the transfer of the surplus of the national currency accumulated in its accounts as a result of bill collection operations subscriptions for feeding the electricity into a hard currency according to the official exchange rate, in an attempt to cover part of its fuel needs.

EDL has previously said that BDL needs to convert LL150 billion in local currency to fresh U.S. dollars at the official rate of LL1,507.

But BDL argues that it is not authorized to touch its remaining for currency reserves and insisted the Parliament should give the Central Bank the green light to use part of the reserves to purchase fuel oil for EDL.

Most of the power plants have either shut down or are running with minimum capacity due to the steep shortage of fuel oil.

The severe power rationing has cut the power supply to less than four hours per day and in some regions they don’t even receive one hour.

“The Electricity of Lebanon reports that, after the Deir Ammar plant had to shut down Friday morning due to the absence of fuel oil, Al-Zahrani plant was also forced to stop Saturday noon for the same reason, which led to a decrease in the total power supply to below “270” MW.

It added that the drop in electricity production has reflected in the stability of the network and led to its complete decline without the possibility of rebuilding it again at the present time in light of this difficult operating conditions, low production capacity on the one hand, and the continued presence of major transfer stations outside the control of the company.

“Moreover, it is expected that a shipment of fuel oil (A Grade), which is expected to unload its cargo in each of the Zouk and Jiyyeh estuary tanks early next week, after the Energy and Water Ministry - the General Directorate of Oil - to ensure compliance with its specifications as soon as the results of the analyses of its samples are received from laboratories,” EDL said.

EDL stressed that it needs $100 million in fresh dollars to buy fuel oil and carry out urgent maintenance work on some of the power plants, adding that only BDL is capable of buying this fuel.

 

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