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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Iraq eyes Qatar gas import amid shortage of Iranian supply: report


Baghdad has plans to import gas from Qatar and other countries to make up for fluctuating supplies from Iran.

Iraq is eyeing plans to import gas from Qatar, Turkey, Algeria and Azerbaijan to boost electric power production plants in the country due to a fluctuation in quantities imported from Iran in recent years, an official said.

Baghdad has heavily relied on neighbouring Iran for gas and electricity imports since signing agreements in 2013 and 2015.

In comments to the government-run Al Sabah newspaper, Spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity Ahmed Al-Abadi said electric power production plants across the country operate using five types of fuel, however a recent reduction in imports from Iran has exacerbated an electricity production crisis.

Electricity, oil and energy authorities in Iraq are now edging towards avoiding a total reliance on a single gas source to ensure the flow of supplies to the country, the official added.

Al-Abadi said the Ministry of Electricity is “unbiased towards any of the companies specialised in supplying gas to Iraq, and there is no restraint towards any company provided it meets the required prices and specifications.”

Read also: Qatar’s economy ’emerging strong’ post Covid-19 pandemic: PwC

The Energy Ministerial Council and the Ministry of Electricity are also working on completing electrical interconnection projects with each of the Gulf states as well as Jordan and Egypt, he said, adding that authorities are also seeking to implement solar energy projects to solve the ongoing crisis.

According to an Al Jazeera report, Iran on Tuesday reduced quantities of gas supplied to Iraq to operate electricity production plants in the central and southern region, leading to a loss of about 2,500 megawatts of the total energy produced and imported in the country.

Meanwhile, the ministry said it is closely coordinating with the oil ministry to compensate for the losses and protect the sustainability of production momentum, Iraqi News Agency (INA) reported.

In previous comments to Alkhaleej Online, a senior official at the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity said Baghdad has been seeking to replace Iranian gas for years, however “it failed to do so.”

“We hope that our efforts to cooperate with Qatar succeed, and to adopt the Qatari gas as a replacement, or at least make up for the shortage caused by Iranian gas,” a member who participated in several committees specialised in this field said, without revealing his identity to the public.

He added that Iraqi committees are studying different sources of gas, noting that “Qatar is on top of them.”

Additionally, he pointed out that attempts to adopt Qatari gas are not new, however “they have always been thwarted by influential people in the government.”

Talks with Qatar has been going on since 2016, he added, stressing that “Qataris provided excellent services and were more cooperative than we expected, but influential authorities in the government closed this file at the time.

“Previously, Qatar welcomed cooperation with Iraq in appreciation of the historic relations between the two countries,” he added.

In May 2019, Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani met with former minister of oil, Thamir Ghadban in Doha, where the latter discussed involving state-run Qatar Petroleum in projects and investments aimed at developing oil and energy sectors in Baghdad.

Qatar’s amir reiterated his country’s support to Iraq on political and security levels, stressing his “strong interest to develop brotherly relations.”

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