Reduction of Iranian gas supplied to Iraq leads to power system loss – ministry

Technicians tour the premises of the power plant in the southern Iraqi city of Samawah on June 16, 2020. (AFP photo)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraq’s electricity ministry said on Tuesday that Iranian gas supplied to the central region was reduced from 30 million to 20 million cubic meters per day, while that supplied to the southern region was reduced from 17 million to 5 million cubic meters per day.

The ministry added, in a statement to the Iraqi News Agency (INA), that the reduction in Iranian gas supplies led the national power system to lose about 2600 megawatts, according to Reuters.

The ministry said it was coordinating with the oil ministry on a high level to compensate for what the system has lost so as to not affect the sustainability of production momentum, INA reported.

Mustafa Rajabi, the executive director of the Iranian electricity management company, said earlier on Tuesday that Tehran had suspended electricity exports to Iraq due to a surge in domestic demand.

The country buys gas and electricity from neighboring Iran to supply about a third of its power sector, which has been worn down by years of conflict and poor maintenance, and is unable to meet the needs of the country’s 40 million population.

Oil-rich Iraq produces just 16,000 megawatts of power – far below the 24,000 megawatts needed, and even further from the expected future needs of a country whose population is set to double by 2050, according to the U.N.

The suspension of electricity exports to Iraq comes as the country is already suffering from power outage due to a surge in demands and attacks on pylons in several provinces.

Last month, areas in the country’s south were plunged into darkness for several days after a series of similar attacks.

Around the same time, Iran briefly suspended its gas and electricity exports because of Iraq’s failure to pay a $6 billion energy debt.

The U.S. blacklisted Iran’s energy industry in late 2018 as it ramped up sanctions, but has granted Baghdad a series of temporary waivers, hoping that Iraq would wean itself off Iranian energy.

The failure of Iraq’s power system is particularly acute in the baking hot summer months, often a time of social protest exacerbated by electricity shortages, when temperatures shoot past 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit).

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