From Al Jazeera. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
There is a fight over energy in Iraq between the US and Iran. Iraq relies on Iranian gas for nearly half of its energy – gas that is now subject to US sanctions on Iran.
The Iraqi government originally obtained a 45-day sanctions waiver from the US, but that waiver is set to expire next week.
Iraq is particularly sensitive to the issue after protests against electricity cuts rocked Basra earlier in the year and Iraq’s new government is treading a thin line trying to keep both the US and Iran happy, and its people satisfied.
Iraq is negotiating with the U.S. for exemptions from the impending snap-back of sanctions against Iran, arguing that it could not cut consumption of Iranian electricity and natural gas immediately without suffering serious economic harm and social instability.
An Iraqi delegation was in Washington last week seeking a waiver for its cross-border trade, meeting with senior officials in the State Department, Treasury Department, and National Security Council, according to multiple officials familiar with the talks.
The spokesman for the Ministry of Electricity, Dr. Musab Sari al-Mudaris [Mussab Serri al-Mudaris] (pictured) has denied reports that he had told Bloomberg about an agreement to buy electricity from Saudi Arabia.
He said the statement from the news agency is incorrect.
Bloomberg had cited Mudaris as saying that Saudi Arabia agreed to build a 3,000-megawatt solar power plant in Saudi Arabia and sell the electricity to Iraq at $21 per megawatt-hour, a quarter of what it paid Iran for the imports.
Iraqi Electricity Minister Qassem Al-Fahdawi (pictured) said yesterday that his country has failed to convince Iran to resume supplying Iraq with electricity.
Last Friday, Al-Fahdawi along with an Iraqi delegation arrived in Tehran where they held talks with Iranian officials to resume supplying Iraq with 1,000 megawatts of electricity, which Tehran cut off about two weeks ago due to the accumulation of debts owed by Baghdad.
Al-Fahdawi explained in a statement received by Anadolu News Agency that his ministry “has put [forward] an alternative plan to importing electricity from Iran”.
Iraq has been importing electricity from Iran for many years after their power infrastructure was destroyed by decades of war and blockade.
According to figures released by the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity in August, last year the country produces 15,700 megawatts of electricity, however it needs more than 23,000 megawatts of electricity to meet its population needs.
The power outage caused by the Iranian move contributed to fueling violent protests in the southern Iraq provinces which led to at least five people being killed and 190 wounded after security forces fired on protesters.
Iran’s Deputy Energy Minister for Electricity and Energy Affairs Houshang Falahatian (pictured) has stated that the power grids of Iran and Iraq will be interconnected in mid-November 2017.
“Iran is ready to take a serious part in reconstruction of the Iraqi electricity grid once terrorists have been eliminated from the area” Falahatian added.
He also emphasized Iran’s readiness to engage “seriously” in three sectors including reconstruction of Iraq’s production, distribution and transmission lines, and the participation of the Iranian private sector.
Falahatian also said pointed out the need to synchronize the electricity grids of the two countries, saying that the plan is to connect the two countries’ power grids in mid-November this year, which could play an important role in increasing the amount of electricity exchanges.
In case of any request from the Iraqi government, the possibility exists to reconstruct the Iraqi distribution and transmission networks within two years.