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The Daily Star
SATURDAY, 19 APR 2014
10:21 AM Beirut time
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Fuel delivery averts increased electricity rationing ahead of storm
EDL says the fuel shipment had been held up offshore waiting for payment.
EDL says the fuel shipment had been held up offshore waiting for payment.
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BEIRUT: Electricite du Liban said Tuesday that there would not be further electricity cuts this week after the company received ample supply of fuel oil to run the plants.

“The ships have successfully unloaded the fuel oil and gas oil to tankers at the Zouk Mikail, Jiyyeh and Zahrani power plants before the arrival of the snowstorm. This will allow us to restore electricity supply back to normal,” a statement by EDL said.

It added that the company had taken precautionary measures to ensure the bad weather would not affect the production units at the power plants.

The company expressed fear Monday that it might not be able to unload fuel oil and gas oil if the weather conditions were bad.

It warned that if the fuel oil was not unloaded Tuesday, Lebanon would experience severe power rationing reaching 18 hours a day in most areas.

EDL sources said Monday that the Finance Ministry did not release the funds on time to buy fuel, a claim that was refuted by the ministry Tuesday.

A statement by the Finance Ministry accused the media of exaggerating the news regarding power cuts.

“We opened letters of credit to EDL in the amount of $129 million to buy fuel oil last week and intend to release another $45 million soon for the same purpose,” the statement added.

The Finance Ministry stressed that the new allocations would be sufficient to ensure Lebanon’s supply of fuel oil until the end of the year.

“If EDL is facing maintenance and technical issues, then this is not our problem but the problem of the company,” the statement said.

But a source at EDL insisted that the funds were not released on time.

“We should have received the money bit earlier especially since the forecast bad weather conditions could have derailed efforts to unload the fuel oil from the ships,” the source at the company said.

But there is still concern that the Finance Ministry may not be able to meet the financial requests of EDL next year promptly if the bureaucratic procedures are not addressed.

Although the caretaker Cabinet is not authorized to spend above the 2005 budget ceiling, the Finance Ministry emphasized that it had sufficient funds at the Central Bank to finance EDL’s needs.

The losses at EDL are regularly covered by Treasury funds.

The cost of fuel oil represents more than 85 percent of EDL’s annual losses.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 11, 2013, on page 5.
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