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Mired in energy crisis, Lebanon power plant to restart after lack of fuel forced it offline

A picture taken on July 10, 2021 shows the Deir Ammar power station, in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli. (Ibrahim Chalhoub/AFP)
A picture taken on July 10, 2021 shows the Deir Ammar power station, in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli. (Ibrahim Chalhoub/AFP)

BEIRUT — A major power station in Lebanon is set to resume operations tomorrow, two days after it ground to a halt due to a lack of fuel, during a period where the country has faced constant power cuts and economic turmoil.

Zahrani, one of the country’s four main power plants, located in south Lebanon, went offline yesterday because the state electricity company was unable to access fuel shipments stuck offshore, due to pending payments.

Electricity of Lebanon (EDL) says today that foreign correspondent banks have completed payment procedures and preparations are underway to unload the cargo.

“Zahrani power plant will be back in service starting tomorrow morning after the entire cargo aboard the tanker is unloaded into its tanks,” EDL says in a statement.

The state electricity company, however, doesn’t mention the Deir Ammar power station, which also went offline yesterday because it ran out of fuel.

Together, Deir Ammar and Zahrani provide about 40% of the country’s electricity.

Lebanon is mired in what the World Bank has called one of the worst economic crises since the 1850s, and the cash-strapped state is struggling to buy enough fuel to keep the lights on.

Power cuts in recent months have lasted up to 22 hours a day in some areas, while even private generator owners have been forced to ration output as fuel prices rise, resulting in periods of complete blackout.

This has disrupted work at businesses, government offices and hospitals.

The government’s COVID-19 vaccine committee yesterday said that it cancelled a mass vaccination drive planned for the weekend because of power outages in most centers.

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