Iraq at risk of power shortages after Iran reduced gas supply

A general view shows the power plant in the southern Iraqi city of Samawah on June 16, 2020. (AFP photo)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraq’s electricity ministry said on Wednesday the country is at risk of serious power shortages due to the reduction of Iranian gas supplies.

The Iraqi ministry said Iranian gas supplied to the central and southern regions was reduced from 49 million to 8 million cubic meters per day.

The reduction in gas supplies led the national power system to lose about 5,500 megawatts, the ministry said in a statement.

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.

Mustafa Rajabi, the executive director of the Iranian electricity management company, said on August 11 that Tehran had suspended electricity exports to Iraq due to a surge in domestic demand.

In July, 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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