Iraq at risk of power shortages after Iran slashes gas supply: ministry

A general view of Abadan oil refinery in southwest Iran, is pictured from Iraqi side of Shatt al-Arab in Al-Faw south of Basra, Iraq September 21, 2019. (Reuters)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraq’s capital Baghdad and other cities are at risk of serious power shortages after Iran slashed gas exports, the electricity ministry said, potentially placing further pressure on the government of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

Iran has reduced gas exports to Iraq to five million cubic meters from 50 million cubic meters two weeks ago citing unpaid bills, spokesman of electricity ministry Ahmed Moussa said on Sunday (December 27), according to Reuters.

It also officially informed Iraq’s electricity ministry on Sunday that it planned to cut shipments further to three million cubic meters, the spokesman added.

Iraq has lost around 6,550 megawatts of electricity, according to Moussa.

Iraq’s daily consumption during peak hours of winter reaches around 19,000 megawatts while the country generates around 11,000 megawatts, replying on imports to fill the gap, he said.

Iran’s Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian is scheduled to visit Baghdad on Tuesday to discuss the unpaid bills with his Iraqi counterpart, Moussa noted.

“We strongly encourage Iraq’s finance ministry to resolve the unpaid bills with Iran to avoid critical shortages of power supplies in Baghdad and other cities,” Moussa said.

The United States has repeatedly extended by 90 or 120 days a sanctions exemption to allow Iraq to import Iranian energy, but in November it granted only a 45-day extension.

The United States has insisted that oil-rich Iraq, OPEC’s second-largest producer, move towards self-sufficiency as a condition for its exemption for importing Iranian energy, yet Baghdad has struggled to do so, in part due to low oil prices.

(Esta Media Network/Reuters)

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