BEIRUT — An issue over payments for previous shipments has stalled the unloading of fuel tankers, George Fayad, the head of the petroleum importers’ association, told L’Orient Today.
Here’s what we know so far:
• Payments for four gasoline and three diesel shipments had been preapproved by Banque du Liban, according to Maroun Chammas, the vice president of Medco.
• However, most of the ships will not unload due to BDL’s alleged failure to process payments for previous shipments, Fayad said.
• It was unclear whether the payment issues affected all of the tankers. George Brax, a spokesperson for the gas station owners’ syndicate, said earlier on Tuesday that one tanker had begun to unload its cargo. According to MarineTraffic.com, there were eight tankers carrying petroleum or chemical products off Lebanon’s coast as of Tuesday evening.
• If the payment obstacles are overcome, fuel from the seven ships will last a maximum of 15 days, Chammas said.
• A spokesperson for BDL was unable to confirm any details of the matter.
• An Energy Ministry official did not immediately respond to a request for comment; a spokesperson was unable to comment.
• The latest fuel delivery issue comes amid a massive fuel shortage across the country, with most gas stations remaining closed so far this week. Fuel shortages have plagued Lebanon for the entire summer, caused by a cocktail of uncoordinated reductions in subsidies by authorities, official pricing that incentivizes hoarding and smuggling, a lack of transparency from governmental bodies and a failure to procure fuel to supply the state electricity utility, increasing demand for diesel-run generator power.
• The fuel crisis has brought blackouts of up to 22 hours per day in most of the country and roiled businesses and commuters, who find their bills for electricity and transportation skyrocketing. Hospitals, water establishments and other essential service providers have meanwhile warned of catastrophe.