Lebanon is to receive a loan of $85mn from the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) under an agreement signed on 4 February. The loan will partially finance the upgrading and rehabilitation of the two power plants at Zouq, north of Beirut and Jiyyeh, south of the capital in order to boost their output to 272mw. Lebanese Minister of Energy and Water Gebran Bassil, who signed the loan agreement, said that the improvement of these two plants is part of an overall plan to boost electricity production by 1,500mw. The loan is repayable in 25 years and carries a concessionary interet rate. Mr Basil announced during the signing ceremony that the first electricity barge leased from the Turkish firm Karkey Karadeniz Elektrik Uretim is expected to reach Lebanon by the end of February. Last July Lebanon had signed a $360mn three year-contract with the Turkish firm to lease two electricity-generating barges from the Turkish firm with a combined capacity of 270mw of electricity (MEES, 23 July 2012). The second barge will not be delivered before four months, the minister noted. Mr Basil revealed that Lebanon, which previously received 200-300mw of electricity from Syria and Egypt, had stopped importing power from these countries because of the current political crisis there.

He also said that he had submitted a proposal to parliament to build power plants with a generation capacity of 1,500mw, a project that would be handled by the private sector under public-private-partnership schemes. Lebanon suffers from power outages as demand of more than 2,400mw outstrips supply of less than 1,500mw. Some areas outside the capital currently have long periods of no supply. (CONTINUED - 270 WORDS)