BEIRUT: Caretaker Water and Energy Minister Jibran Bassil emphasized Friday the need to rehabilitate the Zouk power station by halting its operations for a minimum of nine months, a move which would increase power rationing by five hours per day.

According to Bassil, the plant supplies no less than 25 percent of the total electricity consumed in Lebanon and has an average capacity of supplying 350MW while its actual capacity should reach 600MW.
Bassil’s comments came during his visit to the Zouk electricity plant accompanied by the chairman and director general of Electricite Du Liban Kamal Hayek in addition to consultants from the ministry and some of the plants’ workers.

Bassil warned against a disaster if the station was not properly rehabilitated, adding that renting power-generating ships would be an effective way to compensate for the temporary loss of the Zouk station’s power supply. “However, it won’t be possible to produce electricity and rent ships without getting the Mansourieh power line back in operation,” he said.

The Mansourieh power line was suspended following protests by citizens in that area, who feared that the erection of a string of power lines in their community would pose serious health risks.

Bassil noted that the station has been operating for 27 years and needs to be rehabilitated because it is too old. He added that the station used to employ 391 workers in 1991 while the number of employees does not exceed 150 today. “This is affecting the conduct of regular maintenance work at the power station in a very negative way,” he said.

Bassil added that the ministry is preparing a list of conditions which will be completed by the end of July 2011. This will be followed by the issuance of a tender and the implementation of the project.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 14, 2011, on page 4.

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(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::