Iraq has signed an agreement allowing the cash-strapped Lebanese government pay for 1 million tonnes of heavy fuel oil a year in goods and services, helping Lebanon ease its acute power shortage, the two sides said on Saturday.
Caretaker Energy Minister Raymond Ghajar arrived at Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut this evening, returning from Iraq, after he signed an agreement with the Iraqi government to import one million tons of Iraqi oil.
Ghajar and the Director General of Public Security, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, went to Baghdad yesterday, accompanied by a delegation from the Water and Energy Ministry to sign the agreement.
In a press conference held upon his arrival at the airport, Ghajar gave an overview of the agreement with the Iraqi government. He thanked the Iraqi state, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi and all the sides that exerted huge efforts during the past three months so as to reach the signed agreement.
Ghajar said the fuel would be used for electricity generation and was enough for four months. He said it was worth about $300 million to $400 million.
Iraq’s Oil Ministry said in a statement it would supply Lebanon with surplus heavy fuel oil from its refineries.
Ghajar continued to explain that this fuel cannot be used in Lebanon, since its specifications are different from the one used in Lebanese factories. “What will happen is that we will successively, as needed, bid for the purchase of fuel through Spot Cargo for Electricité du Liban and for the private sector, i.e. for oil facilities, and these bids will take place according to a premium for each company. But the difference is that instead of paying through the Banque du Liban, we will ask them to exchange the oil they are going to provide us with the Iraqi oil,” Ghajar said.
Many Lebanese rely on private generators that use diesel, which is also in short supply.
Hospitals said this week their generators were at a risk of running out of fuel, putting critical patients at risk.