Turkish company cuts power to crisis-stricken Lebanon

BEIRUT (AP) – A Turkish company that supplies electricity to Lebanon from two electric barges closed operations on Friday due to late payments. This decision should increase blackouts in the Mediterranean country affected by the crisis.

The Karpowership company threatened to shut off its power supply in Lebanon for weeks and said it made the decision on Friday due to 18 months of late payments. However, the move comes after a Lebanese prosecutor decided last week to seize the ships pending an investigation into allegations of bribery and bribery. The company called the accusations baseless.

The company has supplied around 370 megawatts – roughly a quarter of Lebanon’s supply – via two electric barges anchored off the Lebanese coast since 2013.

“For the past 18 months, we have been extremely flexible with the state, continuously providing electricity without payment or a payment plan, as the country was already facing very difficult times,” the statement from Karpowership said.

“However, no business can operate in an environment with such direct and undue risk,” he added.

The move is expected to cut electricity supply by around four hours a day in a country that already suffers from prolonged power cuts. It comes at a time when the Central Bank and the government are considering ending fuel subsidies, a move that would cause gasoline and diesel prices to rise sharply, even making generator subscriptions unaffordable for most Lebanese. .

Blackouts have been a part of life in this Mediterranean country since the 1975-1990 civil war, relying mainly on imported diesel for the powerful generator cartel that lights up people’s homes in the absence of government electricity.

Beirut residents set their routine around three-hour power cuts that determine when they can turn on their air conditioning in the summer and their water heater in the winter. Outside the capital, outages can last up to 12 hours or more.

Successive governments have failed to agree on a permanent solution to chronic power outages, in large part due to profit, rampant corruption and lack of political will.

Lebanon was rocked by an unprecedented economic and financial crisis which saw the collapse of the local currency, which lost around 85% of its value, and a severe shortage of dollars – significantly affecting the country’s ability to import goods. basic products.

Fuel imports are subsidized, but the lack of foreign exchange makes it more difficult to secure resources.

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