Even before the Beirut port explosion revealed the extent of Lebanese corruption, a scandal involving off-spec fuel oil imports caused serious damage to the country’s power infrastructure, and a rift between Algeria’s Sonatrach, the Lebanese government, and a small oil trading firm called ZR Energy (MEES, 29 May).

New details shed additional light on the case. MEES understands that ZR Energy loaded the tainted fuel via ship-to-ship transfer off Malta, where the fuel oil was possibly blended with a cheap additive. When it came to Lebanon (with a Malta inspection certificate), the cargo was discharged into a storage tank. But the sediment now prevents it from being pumped out – resulting in damage and impaired storage capacity. (CONTINUED - 163 WORDS)