The electric grid of Lebanon collapsed this Saturday after two state-owned power plants ran out of fuel. The outage lasted 24 hours but its underlying cause—a chronic shortage of fuel—remains a problem for the troubled Middle Eastern country.
The Washington Post reported that the two plants, Deir Ammar and Zahrani, had run out of diesel fuel, and they could no longer supply the several hours’ worth of electricity that the Lebanese have been forced to get by on in the past months.
Around-the-clock electricity supply has not been available for years, the report notes.
Deir Ammar and Zahrani account for some 40 percent of electricity generation in Lebanon, according to the BBC, and before the collapse, the average electricity supply only lasted for two hours. The alternative is private generators, but these are only for those who can afford the higher bills, the report also said.
“It is drastic, and it has been drastic for a while,” the country’s Walid Fayyad told The Washington Post. “With a few hours a day people can go about their basic needs for a couple of hours, and of course it is better than nothing, but the situation is dire and we need more than a few hours a day.”
The grid collapse, however, is not the only problem that Lebanon is struggling to solve. The troubled country has been plagued not just by power outages but also by shortages of basic foodstuffs and medicines.
According to the World Bank, more than three-quarters of Lebanese citizens are currently living in poverty, and this poses a significant threat to the country’s stability.
Any further instability in the tiny Middle Eastern country would contribute to the wider instability of the region, which in turn could add more upward pressure to oil prices, already boosted by the energy crunch in Europe and Asia.