War has long ended, but power rationing has not. Promises after promises were given to the citizens, but none of them has ever been kept.
Before the year 1975, Lebanon had a 24-hour power supply, and it used to sell electricity to Syria. In 1991 and 1992, electricity was available 18 hours/day, although Lebanon had just been out of war.
Despite the increase in public spending on the sector since 2006, the latter did not improve. It rather degraded, and power supply rates fell in different regions, with a rationing of more than 12 and 14 hours a day in some of them.
Power outage increased, even in Beirut administrative area. With this growing outage, the owners of private generators started to make profit by setting high fees, sometimes reaching L.L. 200 thousand for every five amperes per month.
No step has been made since 1996 as to improve the electricity reality. Two ships from the Turkish company “Karadeniz” have been rented, and they currently provide 30% of the power supply, despite the many promises lavished on the Lebanese people to provide energy 24/24 by the year 2015.
No new power plant is established. The reasons for the problem of rationing are numerous, and the most important of which are: the Electricite Du Liban’s fiscal deficit, the large shortfall in stations and transmission and distribution lines, the continuous breakdowns in production plants, the infringements on networks, the theft of electricity and the decline of collection, in addition to the damage in the network as a result of military and security incidents.
Amongst the problems are the increased demands in consumption amid the absence of efficient plans that start by bridging the shortfall in the company’s workforce, not to forget the problem of day-workers, in addition to the issue of running some plants on diesel instead of fuel.
In fact, Lebanon needs more than three thousand megawatts; the demand for electricity reaches 3.500 megawatts at peak time, while plants can produce 1600 MW at best.
The plants’ current production capacity does not fit the increased demand due to urbanization and population growth in all Lebanese regions, in addition to the presence of 1.5 million displaced Syrians in Lebanon consuming 310 MW.
Power production plants suffer frequent crashes as 60% of them are more than 20 years old and the remaining 40% are about 40 years old.
As mentioned earlier, the Turkish power-generating ships “Fatima Gul” and “Orhan B” provide 30% of the power supply enjoyed by the Lebanese at present, which is approximately 400 MW, a capacity that exceeds the amount stipulated in the contract with the two ships’ operator.
In this context, CEO of Karadeniz Company, the operator of the two ships, Orhan Karadeniz said “The shortage of electricity production is the biggest challenge for Lebanon, so we are doing our best to provide for the Lebanese continuous energy, with the help of the EDL.”
“We have proven over the past three years an ability to provide efficient, high-quality electrical energy at low prices,” he said.
We are constantly building ships that generate power, and whenever Lebanon is in need, we are ready to provide it with a third and a fourth vessel, or even more. But no formal negotiations have yet been made in this regard with the Lebanese official authorities,” he went on, uttering the company’s readiness to improve the conditions of the new contract to be signed with Lebanon for a 2-year extension as of October.
In his turn, the representative of “Karadeniz” company, architect Ralph Faisal, said “Karadeniz” can help EDL as much as possible by increasing the power feeding and by doubling the number of vessels, which the company can finalize in a quick period of three to nine months.
Faisal uttered satisfaction over “providing an important energy source in Lebanon, continuously and systematically, at a lower cost than the current resources available to the EDL, with specifications that match local requirements and international standards in force.”
Faisal revealed that “the EDL has received approval from the ministries of Finance and Energy to extend the contract with the company for two years.”
The question remains “could Lebanon soon solve the problem of energy rationing by importing new ships, or would solving the electricity crisis remain a dream?”