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Beirut and suburbs are lit by privately-owned diesel generators that provide power to homes and businesses. Image Credit: AP

Beirut: Iranian officials told a Lebanese technical delegation visiting Tehran on Tuesday that Iran could offer Lebanon 600,000 tonnes of fuel over five months to help ease its power shortages, Lebanese TV station Al Manar reported.

If the fuel deal goes through, it would be Iran’s first supply of fuel directly to the Lebanese state after it previously sent some to its ally Hezbollah, a powerful armed militant movement that is part of Lebanon’s coalition government.

Lebanon has struggled with outages for decades but its economic meltdown since 2019 has drained state coffers, slowing down imports of fuel for government plants.

That has left most of the country with just one or two hours of state-provided electricity per day and forced households to rely on subscriptions to private generators that have skyrocketed as global fuel prices spiked.

Iran earlier this month offered Lebanon a “gift” of fuel in the specifications required to run Lebanese power plants, sources told Reuters, with no details on the type of fuel.

On Monday, Iran’s embassy in Beirut said the fuel ships could be in Lebanon within two weeks.

Local television station Al Manar reported that Tehran had offered 600,000 tonnes to be delivered over five months. A source from the energy ministry confirmed the amount and said the deal would likely be finalised in the next day.

“We sent a technical delegation to Tehran and they are studying the details,” an energy ministry spokesperson told Reuters on Tuesday.

Last year, Iran sent fuel to Hezbollah, which is designated a terrorist organisation by the United States and some other Western nations. That fuel was shipped to Syria and then brought into Lebanon in trucks in an attempt to avoid U.S. sanctions on Iran’s energy sector.

The United States did not take any action over that last year. The US embassy had no immediate comment on Tuesday.

The head of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, has repeatedly urged Lebanon’s government to turn to Iran for fuel to ease its energy crisis.