Lebanon fuel crisis explained: Why is country suffering repeated blackouts?

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For the first time in recent months, there has been no power outage in Lebanon.

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Already described by the World Bank as one of the world’s worst economic crises in 150 years, the country is also facing a rolling blackout – which has further disrupted the daily lives of millions of people and Lebanon. its water supply and health system at risk.

In the latest collapse, notable for its severity, two of the country’s largest power stations, Al Zahrai and Deir Ammar, were forced to close, reportedly as a result of fuel shortages.

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The system failed, with energy output in the national grid falling to 200 megawatts, said to be less than 3,000 megawatts. A government official warned that it would be unlikely to resume for several days.

According to broadcaster LCBI, officials of state-run power company Electrecité du Liban have been left scrambling to manually rebuild the grid its national control center was destroyed in last August’s explosion that left Beirut. was devastated and toppled the country – and its government, which collapsed shortly after – into further turmoil.

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The basis of the current crisis can be traced back decades to the end of the civil war, which has since led successive governments to bear the world’s highest debt burden amid allegations of chronic corruption and mismanagement.

The crash happened in late 2019, when the government resigned in the face of mass protests, sparked by a proposed tax on WhatsApp, but fueled by anger over government corruption and a growing financial crisis.

With US dollar withdrawals from Lebanon and foreign currency inflows drying up, the country’s banks closed their doors – and restricted customers’ withdrawals. As a black market opened forex, the value of the national currency tanked. It is now estimated to have lost 90 percent of its value, although its exact value is now difficult to ascertain.

Meanwhile, inflation, unemployment and poverty have soared, food costs have risen five-fold and medicine supplies are running low, even as the coronavirus pandemic rages on.

Then the port of Beirut exploded, killing more than 200 people, displacing hundreds of thousands, ruining countless homes and businesses, and leaving the country already struggling to develop and maintain its infrastructure. Transport and sewage systems in the capital were disrupted.

And with its foreign exchange reserves drying up, Lebanon has found it harder to pay foreign energy suppliers, leaving it without the fuel needed to operate its power plants. In August, the country’s former power minister lamented that while the country needs 3,000 MW of electricity, it has enough fuel to produce 750.

As a result, residents report having access to state electricity for only an hour or two per day, if any.

Blackouts have been a feature of life in Lebanon for decades, meaning that large numbers of residents have access to private generators, a lack of fuel needed to run them and rising costs have rendered them an increasingly inaccessible lifeline. .

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Credit: www.independent.co.uk /

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