The US State Department announced on Friday that its country was working with the government in Baghdad to end what it called Iraq’s dependence on Iranian gas.
The Foreign Ministry said today, “Washington is working with Baghdad to end the Iraqi dependency of Iranian gas.”
“The United States granted a 90-day exemption to Iraq to be able to pay its imports of Iranian electricity,” the ministry said.
The United States has extended for 90 days the deadline to allow Iraq to import electricity from Iran, allowing Baghdad to bypass sanctions imposed by Washington over Tehran over its nuclear program, a government source involved in the Hadiths said on Thursday.
On Nov. 5, Iraq was exempted from 45 days of US sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program and was supposed to devise a road map that would eliminate Baghdad’s full reliance on Iranian electricity and gas.
A few days before the deadline, a delegation of Iraqi officials went to Washington to negotiate an extension of the grace period, two sources told AFP.
Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, stressed during his press conference last week, Baghdad’s intention to send a negotiating delegation to Washington.
The government source involved in the talks in Washington to AFP that Iraq is within the extension of the deadline for a period of 90 days, so that Iraq can continue to buy Iranian electricity and gas.
Asked whether the United States had pressed the Iraqi delegation to engage in a partnership with US companies to fill the gap, the source said the issue was part of “complex discussions.”
A power shortage that often leaves homes without electricity for up to 20 hours a day is a key factor behind weeks of major protests in Iraq during the summer.
To overcome this shortfall, Iraq imports up to 28 million cubic meters of natural gas from Tehran to its factories and directly buys 1,300 megawatts of Iranian electricity.
This dependence is uncomfortable for the United States, which sought to curtail Tehran’s influence and re-impose sanctions on Iran’s financial institutions, shipping lines, the energy sector and oil products.
Last week, US Energy Secretary Rick Perry discussed sanctions with Iraqi oil and electricity ministers in Baghdad, saying Baghdad had to open doors to US companies to achieve energy independence.
“Working together, the United States and Iraq can develop oil, gas and water industries,” Perry said.
The Ministry of Electricity of Iraq to the possibility of stopping the import of Iranian electricity within two years, but the issue of gas import is the most difficult. It needs Tehran gas until it has the capacity to extract its gas or invest gas burned during the extraction of oil.
According to the World Bank, the waste of burned gas in Iraq is about 2.5 billion dollars a year, enough to bridge the gap in the generation of gas from Iraq.