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Foreign minister inaugurates new Zouk power plant

Jun 18

Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil Saturday inaugurated the new Zouk power plant, calling on critics to spare people their lies.

'We are in solidarity to achieve people's interests,' Bassil said, adding that President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri are determined to 'provide people with cheap electricity feed.'

The FM said that if the tender for the construction of Deir Ammar power plant in north Lebanon wasn't obstructed, 'Lebanon would've enjoyed by now 24/24 electricity feed.'

Bassil said that the obstruction of the project lost Lebanon around six hours of additional electricity feed.

He lashed out against skeptics, saying: 'Some people only talk. But nations cannot be built with delusion, rumors and lies.'

The Energy Ministry signed in 2013 a $348 million contract with a Danish-German consortium to build new power plants in Jiyyeh and Zouk.

Under the contract, Danish BWSC and German Man Diesel would build two plants, with a maximum capacity of 272 megawatts, at the same locations housing Lebanon’s two biggest power plants.

Then Energy Minister Bassil said that the construction would take between 15 months and 18 months. He has also said the new plants would run on both fuel oil and natural gas.

'Just as we managed to avert the risks of vacuum, extension [of the Parliament's tenure] and the 1960 [majoritarian] voting system ... our responsibility compels us to save the country from darkness,' Bassil said at the inauguration.

Energy and Water Minister Cesar Abi Khalil, who was present at the event, said that 'the new plant provides five additional hours of electricity feed and save $333 million losses annually.'

Lebanon began reviewing bids offered for leasing two power barges.

The leasing of two new barges is expected to provide the country with seven additional hours of electricity feed starting summer to be added to the three hours of power generated by the power plants in Zouk Mikael and Jiyyeh.

The main idea behind the leasing of the barges is to give the Energy Ministry and Electricite du Liban more time to build new power plants that can provide all of Lebanon with 24 hours of electricity in the future.

EDL’s deficit currently stands at LL2.1 trillion annually ($1.4 billion): 80 percent of this deficit is attributable to the cost of fuel oil, while the rest is due to poor collection of bills, electricity theft and technical problems.

Lebanon has been plagued by a chronic electricity crisis since the Civil War. Successive governments had failed to improve the electricity sector and many households rely on private generators to see them through the cuts.

However generator subscription fees are unaffordable for many.

Most Lebanese regions experience 10 to 12 hours of electricity rationing a day. Power cuts increase dramatically in the event a malfunction in one of Lebanon’s aging plants.