Lebanon is one of the only countries on the planet that is heavily dependent on fuel oil and diesel oil to generate electricity. Iran News quotes the story of energy problems in Lebanon. Among the raft of economic reforms announced by Prime Minister Saad Hariri on October 21 is an overhaul of the country’s energy sector that includes transitioning power […]
Lebanon is one of the only countries on the planet that is heavily dependent on fuel oil and diesel oil to generate electricity. Iran News quotes the story of energy problems in Lebanon.
Among the raft of economic reforms announced by Prime Minister Saad Hariri on October 21 is an overhaul of the country’s energy sector that includes transitioning power plants run by state-owned giant Electricite du Liban (EdL) from oil to less expensive natural gas.
Though the reform package failed to assuage protesters, oil-powered electricity is undeniably a huge drag on Lebanon’s finances. Government energy subsidies reached $1.8bn in 2018, according to the World Bank – roughly 30 percent of the state’s budget deficit last year.
In July, the IMF determined that “eliminating electricity subsidies is the most significant potential expenditure saving,” Lebanon could make. The IMF also proposed that EdL charge customers more for the electricity they use.
The current tariff structure, which only covers around a third of the company’s operating costs, has not changed since 1996, when global benchmark crude oil traded around $23 a barrel. It currently trades around $62 a barrel.
But hiking prices is a tough sell, given EdL’s dodgy service.
Last year, the company supplied less than half of Lebanon’s electricity needs. Private power suppliers – known as “generator mafias” made up the difference.
“We have to pay two bills,” said Mohammed, a driver from Tripoli who asked Al Jazeera to withhold his surname. “One to the state and one to generator owners that provide us with the electricity that the government is unable to give us.”
Private suppliers often charge an extortionate flat rate, which means customers pay the same price every month, regardless of how much electricity they use.
“I shell out $65 to EdL and $100 to the privates for the apartment I live in with my family,” said Michel.
Demand for privately generated power varies from region to region. Rolling blackouts in Lebanon range from three to 17 hours a day, with Beirut and South Lebanon experiencing the shortest disruptions, and the Bekaa Valley experiencing longest, according to the World Bank.
In April 2019, Lebanon’s council of ministers approved an energy sector reform plan that includes cracking down on illegal connections to the grid, increasing generation capacity, hiking tariffs, and upgrading infrastructure to shift the state’s power plants to natural gas and build new ones, as well.
“Lebanon currently has around 42 percent of power plants that can run on gas,” Chatham House fellow Jessica Obeid told Al Jazeera. “The plan is that the new upcoming power plants will primarily run on natural gas.”
Overhauling the power sector has been discussed for years. But the pressure is on to finally deliver on such reforms, which are among a list of preconditions for unlocking $11bn in loans and grants pledged to Lebanon by Western and regional donors.
“We are wasting considerable time discussing and explaining our plans over and over again to various parties,” Minister of Energy and Water Nada Boustani Khoury tells Al Jazeera. “It is a ‘no-brainer’ to conclude that [a reform] would lead to a reduction of the electricity deficit, energy problems, and hence an improvement of the dire financial straits that Lebanon is facing. We have no other choice.”
- source : aljazeera, Iran News