Turkish firm shuts down power supply to Lebanon

Istanbul, May 14 (IANS): Turkish company Karpowership on Friday said it had shut down electricity supplies to Lebanon after failing to resolve payment issues and legal threats.

Karpowership barges, the Fatmagul Sultan and the Orhan Bey, with a total capacity of 404 megawatts, have been supplying Lebanon since 2013, according to Turkish state news agency Anadolu.

This amounts to about 25 per cent of the country's power needs, dpa news agency quoted Anadolu as saying.

Lebanese media reported that a prosecutor last week demanded the ships be seized and the company fined $25 million in connection with corruption allegations.

The company, a unit of Karadeniz, requested that Lebanon halt the "unjust" legal action to seize the ships and outline a debt repayment plan, Anadolu reported.

It said it was owed more than $100 million for the last 18 months.

Power generation ceased at 8 a.m. as the fuel on the powerships ran out, the company said.

"For 18 months, we have been exceedingly flexible with the state, continually supplying power without payment or a payment plan, because the country was already facing very hard times," a Karpowership spokesperson told dpa news agency in a statement.

"We deeply regret shutting down and went to great lengths to avoid it," the spokesperson said.

"No company can operate in an environment with such direct and undue risk."

Lebanon's energy supply system is outdated and inefficient, with frequent power cuts in Beirut and other parts of the country since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war.

The situation has further deteriorated in the aftermath of last year's blast at Beirut's port, which killed 190 people and wounded 6,000.



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