Iraq seeks to avoid sanc­tions as pres­sure on Iran im­ports mounts

Arabian Business English - - THE BIG STORY -

A long-awaited over­haul to Iraq’s bro­ken elec­tric­ity sec­tor, to both meet US pres­sure to halt Ira­nian power im­ports and head off sum­mer­time protests over chronic cuts, is in the works, AFP re­ported last week.

With a fresh man at the helm, the elec­tric­ity min­istry is ex­plor­ing op­tions in­clud­ing re­vamp­ing sta­tions and lines to cut waste, im­port­ing power, and im­prov­ing bill col­lec­tion to boost rev­enues.

Bagh­dad hopes it will gen­er­ate enough megawatts to feed de­mand by sum­mer, when cuts can leave mil­lions pow­er­less for up to 20 hours per day.

But it also has an ear­lier dead­line to meet. When Washington reim­posed sanc­tions on Tehran in Novem­ber over the lat­ter’s nu­clear pro­gramme, it granted Iraq a 45-day waiver to pro­duce a roadmap to stop us­ing Ira­nian elec­tric­ity and gas.

Iraq pipes in up to 28 mil­lion cu­bic me­tres of Ira­nian gas daily to feed its sta­tions, and also di­rectly im­ports up to 1,300 megawatts of Ira­nian-pro­duced elec­tric­ity to meet de­mand.

Now, Bagh­dad’s power min­istry has out­lined a plan to wean off Ira­nian elec­tric­ity within 18 months and re­solve some decade-old prob­lems, said spokesman Musab al-Mu­dar­ris.

“In the com­ing two weeks, we will sub­mit to the Amer­i­cans a five-year plan in­clud­ing yearly as­sess­ments,” he told AFP, ad­ding that if the US ap­proves, it may ex­tend the waiver for year or two. “But there are no quick fixes,” Mu­dar­ris in­sisted.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Mu­dar­ris re­marked that while Iraq could do with­out Iran’s elec­tric­ity, it needed Ira­nian gas until it could ex­tract its own or cap­ture flares from oil drilling.

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