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Lebanon: Electricity crisis gets short-term fix but problem not resolved

BEIRUT: Many Lebanese citizens went to slept in darkness on Wednesday and woke up to no power Thursday despite Energy and Water Minister Ayoub Humayed saying that the severe power rationing system will be reduced after oil tankers provided power plants here with fuel on Wednesday.

Humayed, who said Wednesday that Electricite du Liban (EDL) was facing oil shortages causing the company "to proceed with the strict power rationing system," explained that the situation "will change for the better after the oil-loaded ships unload their cargo in the Lebanese power plants of Zahrani, Jieh and Deir Ammar."

Humayed said electricity would resume Wednesday night, after a week of mostly darkness due to power rationing.

However, power was still out on Wednesday in Beirut's southern suburbs, as in most areas in the Bekaa, South and North, and hadn't yet come on by noon on Thursday.

Beirut and a few other areas did have electricity by that time.

Humayed said in a telephone interview that all Lebanese areas had started receiving electricity gradually since Wednesday night.

"The only delay was in Mount Lebanon district," said Humayed, adding that the Zouk power plant will be providing Mount Lebanon with electricity as soon as the fuel tanker finishes unloading there.

EDL's chairman of the board, Kamal Hayek, confirmed in a statement that the power rationing in Mount Lebanon "will be reduced" as the specified area "will start receiving electricity for longer hours starting Friday at dawn."

EDL's statement added that Mount Lebanon will be receiving electricity for 21 hours per day, starting on Saturday.

According to Humayed, "this is but a temporary solution to the electricity crisis."

Humayed said the fuel oil unloaded at the various power plants "will keep the electrical current flowing most of the time until the end of this month."

However, "there has to be a radical solution to the problem," Humayed added.

Head of the Parliamentary Committee for Public Works, Transport, Energy and Water, Beirut MP Mohammed Qabbani, said after Thursday's parliamentary session that the electricity crisis "is a multi-angled problem" and that "the problem neither lies in the lack of the power plants' maintenance nor in the oil shortage."

Qabbani called for a radical solution to the crisis.

Qabbani earlier proposed hedging oil costs, to ensure that the prices of fuel oil would be "stabilized on a certain level, enabling Lebanon to buy it at a fixed price anytime regardless of how high those prices go in international markets. Any other solution for the oil shortage would be just like a pain killer."

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