Iraq seeks to avoid sanctions as pressure on Iran imports mounts
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.