(Photo credit: Al Jazeera)
On 16 November, the Iraqi Minister of Communications, Arkan Shihab Al-Shaibani, stated that his government has approved an agreement to supply Lebanon with 500,000 tons of gas oil a year in return for services.
While some experts say that the oil will reportedly be used to a large extent to operate backup generators, others say that Lebanon will barter this oil to purchase fuel that is compatible with Lebanese power plants.
Iraq and Lebanon signed an agreement in July this year, according to which Iraq agreed to give Lebanon one million tons of heavy fuel oil per year, in exchange for “goods and services,” in various fields, particularly medical service.
Iraqi fuel is incompatible with Lebanese power plants, as it is too heavy. The Lebanese have therefore been using Iraqi oil to barter for compatible fuel. Reportedly, Iranian fuel best suits Lebanese power plants.
Lebanon is suffering from a severe energy crisis and daily power outages amid a dire financial and economic situation.
The power outage has forced essential services – including hospitals – to close or reduce their operating hours.
To overcome the crisis, Lebanon’s Hezbollah offered to purchase fuel from Iran to help reduce power shortages and allow hospitals to have longer operating hours.
Iran has sent at least three oil tankers to Syria’s Baniyas Port since September. The fuel was loaded onto hundreds of tanker trucks that headed for Lebanon, with dozens of convoys arriving so far.
According to Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, the Islamic Republic will continue to help its long-time friend and ally.
The crisis is caused by a vast financial breakdown that has hit the economy hard since 2019.
The World Bank has ranked the Lebanese economic meltdown among the worst in the world since the 1850s.