Iraqi PM says work continue to raise electricity production amid power outage

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi chairs an urgent security meeting in Baghdad, August 13, 2021. (Photo: PM office)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said the federal government continues working to raise electricity production amid power outrages due to attacks on pylons in the country.

“The hand of terrorism and those who do not want the good of Iraq are trying to shuffle the cards by striking the electricity transmission towers after the unprecedented increase in energy production. This is further evidence of the despair of terrorists in front of the will of our people,” Kadhimi said in a tweet.

“Work continues to raise electricity production and repair the damage immediately, and our heroic forces will cut off the hand of those who target the people’s resources,” he added.

Unclaimed attacks on Iraq’s electricity network have been increasing since the start of summer.

Authorities normally accuse Islamic State (ISIS) militants of being behind the attacks.

The interior ministry said last week that militants had attacked 160 power towers in the last seven months.

In an urgent security meeting on Friday, Kadhimi stressed the need to mobilize security, military and intelligence forces to secure the protection of the towers.

He called for reinforcements in protecting the electricity towers, recommending the formation of a crisis task force to monitor the protection of the pylons.

He said there would be a review of the performance of security leaders, according to his office.

“Protecting people, their dignity and infrastructure is your duty, and any failures are unacceptable and will be dealt with firmly,” he said during the meeting.

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 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.

Iran said last week that it had suspended electricity exports to Iraq due to a surge in domestic demand.

The Iraqi ministry of electricity said the reduction in Iranian gas supplies which have been decreased from 30 million to 20 million cubic meters per day had led to the national power system to lose about 2,600 megawatts.

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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