12 February 2014

Liberia: Huge Fuel Shortage - LEC Faces Power Outage

Photo: Eric Hersman
Downtown Monrovia.

With electricity already lacking in Monrovia and environs, the problem has been further compounded by the shortage of fuel oil on the Liberian market resulting in darkness in some government offices and business centers.

Some offices, business centers, including internet cafés, entertainment centers that are running on the Liberia Electricity Corporation power were closed on Monday based on the lack of electricity.

Liberia is heavily reliant on generators for source of electricity for homes, offices and businesses as the only source of power; the Mount Coffee Hydro Plant was destroyed during the civil war, making fuel oil an essential commodity. Besides generators, many vehicles also use fuel oil.

Operating on fuel consuming generators, the Liberia Electricity Corporation announced Monday that it was rationing electricity to customers across Monrovia due to the lack of fuel oil to run its generators. Several government offices felt the pinch of the darkness Monday with some employees leaving work early due to darkness.

"The Liberia Electricity Corporation, LEC says it will tonight begin a mass power shedding in Monrovia and its surrounding areas due to the shortage of fuel in the country", an LEC statement indicated.

The LEC says the power shedding will affect residents, businesses, government buildings and other places of work.

The Liberia petroleum refining Company (LPRC) confirmed the shortage of fuel oil on the Liberian market, blaming the situation on the supplier of the product on the market, a company based in neighboring Ivory Coast.

"We have a shortage because our main supplier in Ivory Coast operations was temporarily shut down, but we will begin rationing the little we have to key entities to ensure that the country keeps going until we get a new supply by Friday when a vessel is expected to arrive", says T. Nelson Williams, Managing Director, LPRC

Williams says the rationing process will be done on an 80 percent basis with the Liberia Electricity Corporation, the Ministry of State and other key entities getting supply of the little in stock at the LPRC to ensure that these entities continue to operate until a new supply of the product arrives.

According to him, one of the major importers, Total Liberia assured that on Monday it was expecting a vessel to bring in fuel oil, but that did not go as planned as the vessel is now expected to arrive Friday.

"We regret to inform the general public that SIR, the national refinery in Ivory Coast, where LPRC gets over 90% of its petroleum supply is currently down until further notice. Due to this unforeseen situation, we have to source petroleum supply from offshore Cameron and Europe. "

"The expected shipment that should have arrived on the 10th of February is delayed until the 15th of February; as such, the present stock is running low" a statement from the LPRC issued late Tuesday stated.

The LPRC stated that it will manage the little quantity in stock.

"Based on this unexpected incident LPRC will have to manage the contingency stock until the next vessel arrives on Saturday. As it relates to diesel/fuel, please be informed that key institutions and filling stations will be supplied at 80% while other facilities at 55%. "

"Also be informed that LPRC has more than enough gasoline (PMS) supply in its tanks and is supplying customers at 100%", the LPRC indicated.

The company disclosed that two vessels are expected this week with a total of 16,000 MT of Diesel, which is approximately 4,000,000 gallons for distribution on the Liberian market.

Hassan Kiawu, Director of Communications at the LEC says he fears that the power outage will continue until the corporation gets fuel oil.

"We received only 20,000 gallons of fuel oil from the LPRC on Monday after we announced the shortage of fuel oil on Sunday and the LEC uses 10 to 12,000 gallons a day. So that can only take us a day with only 8,000 gallons left" Kiawu told FrontPageAfrica Tuesday.

He says, he understands that the LEC will not get a supply of fuel oil until Friday, an indication that the power outage will continue until supply is available.

"My understanding is that the fuel will be here on Friday and we might not get supply until Saturday, so we are only appealing to our customers to bear with us as this action is not intentional but due to the shortage of fuel oil", Kiawu expressed.

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