Iraq imports 7 GW of electricity from Iran ‘to make up shortfall between production and demand’

By bne IntelliNews November 7, 2019

Iraq imports seven gigawatts (GW) of electricity from Iran to make up the shortfall between domestic power production and the country’s demand, a power ministry official was cited as saying on November 6.

Abbas Jabber, the Iraqi electricity ministry undersecretary, told a conference in Cairo that “maybe in three years” Iraq could achieve self-sufficiency but added that it would be a challenge because consumers paid a fraction of the production costs, Reuters reported.

Iraq’s imports of electricity from its neighbour cause consternation in Washington given the Trump administration’s determination to crush Iran’s economy with sanctions that forbid swathes of trade, but US officials have little choice but to grant Baghdad sanctions waivers to permit the power contracts—decades of sanctions and conflict have left Iraq, a major oil producer, with a power deficit. Jabber was also cited as outlining how domestic production capacity was 19.5 GW while the country’s needs stood at 26.5 GW. The figures he presented did not include the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

“This is something we are forced to do honestly, because we do not have sufficient generation capacity to meet demand in Iraq,” the undersecretary was further quoted in explaining Iraq’s reliance on Iranian power transfers.

Iraq’s work on diversifying its power suppliers, in the face of substantial pressure from the US, include a project to develop a power link to Gulf Arab states. It is expected to start operating in the summer of 2020. The link’s capacity will be around 500 megawatts.

Jabber also reportedly said that Iraqi consumer bills covered less than 10% of power production costs. He also told his audience that damage caused by Islamic State had cut domestic capacity by about 4.5 GW. 

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