Turkish company Karpowership, which supplies electricity to Lebanon from two barges, said it was shutting down supplies due to payment arrears and a legal threat to its ships amid the economic crisis in the country. country.
The company, which supplies 370 megawatts (MW), or about a quarter of Lebanon’s supply, told the government this week it is expected to close in the absence of measures for a settlement.
The shutdown threatens longer daily blackouts in the heavily indebted country, which lacked capacity to meet demand even before Karpowership’s move it announced on Friday.
Many people depend on private generators or struggle for several hours a day without electricity.
‘Very hard times’
In a statement, the company said it was shutting down supplies.
“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. However, no company can operate in an environment with such direct and undue risk, ”said Karpowership, a unit of Karadeniz.
A source close to the situation said the measure was taken around 8 a.m. (0500 GMT) as the ships ran out of fuel.
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the arrears exceeded $ 100 million and added that the government had not called for talks or try to resolve a court case, despite repeated appeals from the company intended to avoid a shutdown.
Lebanon’s finance ministry said it had been notified by the Turkish company and quoted a lawmaker as saying the country could face “total darkness” if it is shut down. He has not made any public statement regarding discussions.
A Lebanese prosecutor this month threatened to seize the barges and amend the company after Lebanese television station al-Jadeed reported corruption charges over the electricity contract. The company denies the charges.
He said he had not been paid for 18 months, a period coinciding with the financial crisis, and added that he was looking for a “reasonable solution” to keep production going.
Each of its barges has a capacity of 202 MW against a contract to supply a total of 370 MW.
An industry source said Lebanon’s total capacity was around 2,200 MW, including barges, but only produced a total of 1,300 MW, including Turkish supplies of 370 MW. Lebanon’s peak demand in 2020 was 3,500 MW, the source said.