Karpowership says it will wait until the end of Eid to cut off power in Lebanon

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Karpowership "Shark" Class
Karpowership "Shark" Class
  • Karpowership, a provider of floating power plants, is locked in a dispute with Lebanese authorities over corruption allegations.
  • The group's South African unit has been named a preferred bidder in a multi-billion-rand programme to fast-track new power production.
  • Karpowership has denied claims of corruption in Lebanon, calling them "unfounded".

Turkish energy company Karpowership says it has served Lebanon's power utility with a notice of suspension of services, but will wait until the end of the religious festival of Eid al-Fitr to cut its supply.

Eid is dependent on the sighting of the moon, and is set to take place in Middle Eastern countries on Thursday.

Karpowership, a provider of floating power stations, is locked in a dispute with Lebanese authorities over allegations of corruption related to the renewal of power contracts.

Karpowership's South African unit was in March named a preferred bidder in a department of energy programme to fast-track new power production. It has bid to supply 1 220 MW of new energy by mooring five gas-fuelled power ships in three SA harbours for 20 years.

The unit operating in Lebanon and the company registered in South Africa both fall under Turkey's Karadeniz Energy Group.

Trouble in Lebanon

Last week Lebanon's state news agency reported that authorities had issued an order to stop payments to Karpowership and ban its ships from leaving the country.

Karpowership denied the corruption allegations at the time. It also claimed it had not received payments for the past 18 months. 

On Wednesday morning, a Karpowership spokesperson told Fin24 that it has "served the [Lebanese] power utility with a final notice of suspension of services".

"Out of respect for the people of Lebanon, we will ensure this will not take effect during Eid."

"We remain hopeful that a reasonable solution can be reached urgently to allow us to supply electricity for the rest of our contract."

Environmental compliance

Karpowership SA's bid is still being assessed by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment.

In late April, its local environmental assessment practitioner, Triplo4, found that its bid should be allowed to go ahead.

Triplo4 submitted three separate environmental impact assessments for ports of Saldanha Bay, Richards Bay and Ngqura, where Karpowership SA is planning to moor its ships.

It is now up to the department to either grant or refuse authorisation.

While Karpowership SA's bid has been criticised by some energy analysts - who have questioned why "emergency" powerships will stay in SA ports for two decades, the government has said the ships will help cut down on load shedding.

Karpowership SA's bid

The group has bid to moor

  • one powership producing 415 MW of electricity from natural gas, and one additional ship used for LNG, known as a floating storage regasification unit (FSRU) at the port of Saldanha Bay;
  • two powerships producing 540 MW of electricity and one FSRU at the port of Richards Bay;
  • and two powerships producing 540 MW of electricity and one FSRU at the port of Port of Ngqura within the Coega Special Economic Zone.

All the ships will produce electricity from natural gas.

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