Egypt suffers power outage, could face 'dark winter' due to fuel crisis
More than 15 nationwide power stations have halted electricity generation on Thursday due to shortages of fuel such as diesel, natural gas and mazut, the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC) said Al Ahramonline reported.
"The fuel ran dry, leading to the reduction of around 3000 mega watt of the daily electricity capacity for the first time ever," EETC said, according to Al-Ahram daily newspaper.
Sources familiar with the matter told Al-Ahram that if the fuel production crisis does not end soon "half of Egypt's governorates will plunge into darkness".
Fuel shortage in power plants has led to hours-long blackout in several governorates on Thursday, including capital Cairo, Suez, Beheira and Alexandria.
Egypt's minister of electricity and energy, Mahmoud Balbaa, has contacted petroleum minister Osama Kamal and Prime Minister Hisham Qandil to find a way out of the crisis, Al-Ahram added.
In December, Kamal said that Egypt planned to issue a tender to import gas within "three to four weeks". Shipments could start in the summer of 2013 to help meet growing demand for the fuel.
Egypt, itself a gas producer and exporter, said in October it had agreed to import gas from Algeria and was in talks with Qatar over a similar deal.
Egypt witnessed several power failures last summer due to shortage of fuel supply and the government has insisted that the problem would not occur in the winter because of less electricity consumption.
In August, the government announced that a new power station at Damietta (roughly 300 kilometres north of Cairo) and another at Abu Kier in the Alexandria governorate had begun operations with a view to meeting rising domestic energy demand.
The two stations reportedly represent some LE12 billion worth of investment and generate a combined 1,800 megawatts of energy.