Iraq to supply Lebanon with fuel for power generation, Lebanese minister says

FILE PHOTO: Lebanese Energy Minister Raymond Ghajar speaks during an interview with Reuters in Beirut, Lebanon May 20, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon is set to receive 500,000 tonnes of fuel oil from Iraq in 2021 for power generation, the Lebanese caretaker energy minister said on Wednesday.

The Energy Ministry was also buying spot cargos of fuel and had received offers from several local and foreign companies, Raymond Ghajar told reporters.

Lebanon’s state power company does not have the capacity to meet demand, leaving Lebanese homes and businesses facing power cuts for several hours each day and forcing many to turn to private power generators.

“We are today buying around four cargoes a month,” the minister said, adding that each cargo was around 35,000 tonnes.

Iraq’s heavy fuel did not match Lebanon’s specific needs but an Iraqi company could arrange a swap for another kind of fuel that was more suited, Ghajar said.

Iraq’s cabinet had said on Tuesday it agreed to a deal to supply Lebanon with 500,000 tonnes of fuel a year.

Ghajar said Lebanon’s reserves of fuel did not usually exceed one or two months as keeping a six-month reserve would be too costly for the country, which is grappling with a deep economic crisis.

Reporting By Maha El Dahan in Beirut; Additional reporting by John Davison in Baghdad; Editing by Edmund Blair