One of the major challenges facing the Lebanese in their day-to-day life today is the simple act of refuling their vehicles. While this is happening, the smuggling of fuel across the Lebanese border continues to exacerbate the problem and undermine Lebanon’s sovereignty even more.
Though it has received more attention recently, in light of the economic crisis, smuggling from Lebanon is not newfound. As such, its cumulative cost on Lebanon has been silently compiling over the years, with no signs of the tally freezing any time soon.
According to the Ad-Diyar newspaper, which cites the most recent customs data, Lebanon imported 1,615,220 tonnes of gasoline in 2011, 2,102,817 tonnes in 2019, and 1,664,810 tonnes in 2020.
The significance of these numbers manifests upon using them to calculate the average weekly car consumption in Lebanon, which, between 2011 and 2020, amounted to approximately three canisters per week, which is much higher than what it practically is.
What this might suggest, the newspaper points out, is that Lebanon has been importing a surplus of gasoline that is not going into the Lebanese market but being smuggled outside.
Taking that into account, Ad-Diyar estimates that Lebanon lost between $10 billion and $11 billion in smuggled gasoline between 2011 and 2020.
These numbers are for gasoline alone and do not take into account the smuggling of other commodities and goods, including diesel fuel, cars, and many others, which is taking place continuously.