BEIRUT — Lebanon signed an agreement with the Iraqi government on Saturday to import 1 million tons of Iraqi fuel oil, in a bid to help the cash-strapped country with worsening nationwide electricity cuts.
Caretaker Energy Minister Raymond Ghajar, speaking upon arrival in Beirut after signing the contract in Iraq earlier in the day, said the fuel would be used to provide electricity, adding that it would be sufficient for four months and was worth approximately $300 million to $400 million.
The crude oil will be refined by Iraq’s state-owned oil marketing company, SOMO, before it is shipped to Lebanon; however, it will not arrive all at once, an Energy Ministry spokesperson told L’Orient Today.
The spokesperson could not provide a timeline, saying that “when a certain amount is secured, it will be sent to Lebanon. … It’s hard to tell when shipments will arrive … we could get the first shipment in a week.”
Gajar said that the oil would be imported in exchange for goods and services provided by Lebanon to Baghdad, but what this entails was not made clear.
Lebanon is grappling with the worst economic crisis it has witnessed in decades and the country’s state electricity utility is now only able to supply a few hours of power per day due to fuel supply shortages. Lengthening power cuts means that households, business and industries across the country have to rely on private diesel-dependent generators for electricity. Diesel stocks are also running critically low.