Dec 9 2013
By Ali Latif
Azzaman, December 9, 2013
Iraq is relying more and more on imports of Iranian gas to drive its power plants.
As new and gigantic power plants come on stream mainly in the central and southern parts of the country, the need for natural gas is surging while domestic output is plummeting.
Isam al-Jalabi, a former Iraqi oil minister, estimated Iranian gas exports to Iraq to be worth $17 billion per year.
Iraq’s power generating capacity has skyrocket to 13,000 megawatts with the national grid having for the first time in decades the capacity to provide uninterrupted supplies across the country. Iraq plans to produce 20,000 megawatts by 2015.
The southern Province of Basra alone is expected to be able to generate more than 7,000 megawatts on its own once the power plants under construction are completed.
Jalabi, who currently runs his own consultancy in London, said for Iraq’ power plants to run on full capacity the country would need to import up 90 million cubic meters of Iranian gas per day.
“The need for Iranian gas will be there for years to come as Iraq’s investments to condense associated gas have come to nothing,” he said.
Besides its massive oil reserves, Iraq’s holds sizeable natural and associated gas riches.
But most of its associated gas is flared for lack of processing plants.
Iran has constructed 227-kilometer long pipelines on its own territory in anticipation of the surge in gas exports to Iraq.
“Iran is even building an ‘emergency’ pipeline of 97 kilometers to be able to meet any sudden surge demand for its natural gas from Iraq,” Jalabi added.
Without Iranian gas, Iraq will lose up to 70% of its power generating capacity, he said.
Iran is reported to have struck two separate deals with Iraq, one for the supply of natural gas to power plants in the area of Baghdad and the other in the area of Basra.