BEIRUT — Three fuel ships aimed at supplying Electricité du Liban (EDL) are currently waiting off the Lebanese coast to undergo quality testing before unloading their cargo in the coming days, the Energy Ministry announced Monday.
The fuel on the ships is part of the barter agreement between Lebanon and Iraq, ongoing since the summer of 2021. Their arrival comes days after a blackout at Lebanon's two largest electricity plants, wrought by the facilities' management company in protest against unpaid EDL bills.
The first ship, Kallos, arrived in Lebanon on Aug. 18 at 7 a.m. It is currently off the coast of the Zahrani power station (South Lebanon), which it is supposed to supply.
The second, Ariadne, arrived on the same day at 7 p.m. and is located off the coast of the Deir Ammar power station (North Lebanon).
Both ships are waiting for the ministry to test the quality of the fuel they are carrying – by the Bureau Veritas laboratory in Dubai – before they can unload it. The process should not take more than 72 hours.
A third ship that needs to be paid
For the third ship, the Ardmore, the situation is more complicated, as the fuel it carries was imported on behalf of EDL following a tender process.
The ministry added that the test results for the Ardmore, published on Aug. 11, confirm that the fuel meets the required criteria, and permission to unload it has already been obtained.
However, that process has been on hold as Banque du Liban (BDL) still needs to open a $30 million line of credit to pay for the shipment.
In a statement on Monday, caretaker Energy Minister Walid Fayad said the Ministry of Finance approved opening the line of credit on Aug. 7. However, BDL, which had a change of governor at the beginning of the same month, did not follow through.
The ministerial committee in charge of the electricity dossier seems to present a different version of events. Following a meeting at the Grand Serail, it indicated on Monday that it did not give its prior agreement to opening the requested line of credit. Yet, it added that Fayad "has the freedom to act in accordance with what he deems appropriate."