November 15, 2019 / 11:13 AM / 22 days ago

Lebanon to hold gasoline tender amid supply concerns

BEIRUT, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Lebanon will hold a tender for gasoline in December, Energy Minister Nada Boustani said on Friday, as it looks to stave off a potential supply shortage brought on by worsening economic conditions.

A state tender for gasoline is unusual in import-dependent Lebanon, where fuel is typically procured by private companies. But nationwide protests over the poor state of the economy have led to bank closures, which in turn impacted traders’ ability to buy from abroad.

A tender announcement from the Energy and Water Ministry said Lebanon was seeking 150,000 tonnes of 95 octane gasoline and the deadline for offers is December 2.

“I expect good results from the tender and from there we will see how the market will move,” Boustani told broadcaster LBC.

The central bank said last month that it would prioritise foreign currency reserves for fuel, medicine and wheat but traders say their ability to transfer payments to suppliers has been complicated by the bank closures.

Banks, which were shut for half of October, closed again this week over staff security concerns. Most transfers out of the country have been blocked and, with U.S. dollars scarce, the pegged Lebanese pound is weakening on the black market. (Reporting by Nadine Awadalla and Eric Knecht Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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