Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil Monday approved $75 million for the purchase of fuel, which would help restore two diesel power plants in Deir Ammar and Zahrani to regular production levels, a source from state-run Electricite du Liban told The Daily Star.
The source said production levels for the plants should return to normal by Wednesday.
Coupled with the release of LL4 billion ($2.6 million) to purchase fuel oil, which Khalil approved last week, Monday’s funds mean that electricity across Lebanon should be restored to its normal levels by the start of Thursday.
On Jan. 30, amid dwindling fuel reserves, the state electricity provider began gradually reducing the production capacity of Lebanon’s power plants from 1,900 to 1,300 megawatts. The move translated to an average six-hour reduction in daily electricity supply throughout the country.
While Khalil approved the LL4 billion Friday to counteract this, it allowed for the purchase of only fuel oil, used for plants in Zouk Mikael and Jiyyeh as well as for two Turkish power barges, but not the diesel fuel that runs the Deir Ammar and Zahrani plants.
According to a statement published Monday by EDL, fuel tankers began unloading the fuel oil Sunday evening, so plants and power barges using it were set to gradually begin increasing production Monday evening.
In its statement, EDL hit out at the Finance Ministry for the delay in approving the fuel purchase, saying it had sent a memo requesting the release of the funds almost a month ago, on Jan. 23. The Finance Ministry could not immediately be reached for comment.
Following a meeting at the Grand Serail Monday to discuss projects related to the CEDRE conference held last year in Paris in support of Lebanon, the prime minister’s economic adviser Nadim Munla told reporters that Energy Minister Nada Boustani had held meetings with companies such as Siemens and General Electric as part of an effort to find “a final solution to the electricity problem.”
Further meetings are set to be held this week.
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