Lebanon’s Recurring Power Nightmare

Lebanon power generation is costly, dirty and wasteful, and comes nowhere near meeting demand for electricity. Modest investment would be huge, but the country’s political class has proven even less efficient than its power sector.

Lebanon’s electricity authority Electricité du Liban (EDL) signed an agreement last month with Turkish firm Karadeniz Energy ( MEES, 6 July ) to extend its lease for two 203MW powerships for three more years. Reports in the Lebanese media suggest a per-kWh price drop from US¢5.85 to ¢4.95. Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil has publicly criticized the use of pricey powerships, but in the past has disbursed the funds.

“The powerships do not represent an ultimate solution to the electricity problem but a three-year temporary solution,” politician Gebran Bassil says. But that was over five years ago when Mr Bassil, then minister of energy and water (and now foreign minister), assured the Lebanese the $370mn-a-year powerships were an “emergency” stop-gap to help the country overcome its energy deficit as it reeled from the Syrian refugee crisis. Now his successor Cesar Abi Khalil—also a member of the mostly Christian Free Patriotic Movement (FPM)—is selling a third 3-year contract for the costly fuel oil-powered ships as crucial to Lebanon’s energy future.


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