Iranian energy minister to visit Baghdad Tuesday, says spokesman

File – Iran’s Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian (IFP News)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iran’s Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian is scheduled to visit Baghdad on Tuesday to discuss unpaid bills related to gas supplies, according to an Iraqi official.

The Iranian minister will hold talks with officials at the Iraqi ministry of electricity to discuss gas supplies and unpaid bills during his visit to the Iraqi capital, state news agency INA cited spokesman of Iraqi electricity ministry Ahmed Moussa.

On Sunday, the Iraqi electricity ministry said Baghdad and other cities were at risk of serious power shortages after Iran slashed gas exports.

Moussa said Iran had reduced gas exports to Iraq to five million cubic meters from 50 million cubic meters two weeks ago citing unpaid bills.

Tehran also officially informed Iraq’s electricity ministry that it planned to cut shipments further to three million cubic meters, he 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.

“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.

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