Iraq aims to shift investment priority from oil to gas sector: minister

A picture taken on December 14, 2017 shows the Bin Omar natural gas facility, part of the Basra Gas Company, north of the southern Iraqi port of Basra. (AFP photo)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraq aims to shift its investment priority from the oil sector to gas for the first time in the country’s history, oil minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar said on Tuesday at a gas exporters conference in Doha.

Abdul Jabbar said it would allow Iraq to increase its production of liqueified petroleum gas (LPG) and distillates, according to Reuters.

Iraq, OPEC’s second-largest crude producer, aims to reach self-sufficiency in gas by 2025, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.

The country is working on a plan to develop its vast gas fields with the aim of generating 80 percent of its gas locally, and it will only need to import LNG in the summer months of June, July and August, Bloomberg cited Abdul Jabbar as saying. Demand for air conditioning soars in that period, when temperatures often hit 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit).

Iraq, OPEC’s second-largest producer after Saudi Arabia, depends on oil sales for more than 90% of its public budget and has been under pressure from the United States to reduce its reliance on gas imports from Iran.

The country flares much of its own gas, extracted alongside crude oil at its fields, because it lacks the facilities to process it into fuel and instead uses Iranian power imports to generate electricity.

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