“This is something we are forced to do honestly, because we do not have sufficient generation capacity to meet demand in Iraq,” said Abbas Jabber, Iraq’s electricity ministry undersecretary, on Wednesday.
Jabber said Iraq’s electricity needs, excluding that of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region, were 26.5 gigawatts (GW), or 232.1 terawatt hours (TWh) in yearly consumption terms, of which Iran provided around 7 GW, or 61.3 TWh.
The official, who was speaking to a conference in the Egyptian capital Cairo, said that “maybe in three years” Iraq could achieve self-sufficiency although low consumer bills, which accounted for less than 10% of production costs, was a major problem.
He said efforts to diversify Iraq’s electricity suppliers could hardly lead to a major reduction in Iran’s share of supply in the imports as a plan to link the Iraqi grid to Arab states in the Persian Gulf region in the summer of 2020 would only cover about 0.5 GW of power needed the country.
That comes as Iraq also relies on imports of natural gas from Iran in its own electricity production of 19.5 GW.
The Arab country, rich in oil and gas resources, has been unable to feed enough gas to its power plants, opting instead to import the fuel from neighboring Iran where the gas industry has made major achievements.
Iraq’s minister of electricity Luay al Khateeb said in September that his country could not afford cutting gas imports from Iran as demanded by the United States which seeks to cut Iran’s energy exports to zero as part of its campaign of maximum pressure on the country.