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Iraqi gas.. a glimmer of hope after years of neglect and squandering of wealth

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Iraqi gas.. a glimmer of hope after years of neglect and squandering of wealth

Economy News-Baghdad

Although Iraq is one of the most prominent oil countries in the Middle East, it suffers from a chronic shortage of gas, which it imports large quantities of from neighboring Iran, while the associated gas is burned to extract oil that can be used.

Adviser to the Iraqi Prime Minister, Mazhar Muhammad Salih, estimated the losses of flaring and importing gas at $12 billion annually, stressing that

it is an exorbitant cost to the country's oil and financial resources.

In a statement to the Iraqi News Agency (INA), he indicated that the development of the energy sector needs to invest this gas associated with oil extraction, especially for the purposes of the uses of power stations.

Saleh expects Iraq to reach "zero gas associated with flaring... during the next two years," as

the Iraqi government aims to "stop flaring gas in a way that protects the Iraqi environment, and the second is to use it for power stations."

Iraq continues to burn some of the gas extracted with crude oil in the fields due to the lack of facilities to process it and convert it into fuel for domestic consumption or export, according to a previous report by Reuters.

Iraq is a country rich in oil resources,

but its infrastructure is dilapidated as a result of decades of wars and chronic corruption.

Iraq is witnessing frequent power outages due to this deteriorating infrastructure, according to Agence France-Presse.

"political reasons"

The Iraqi academic economist, Abd al-Rahman al-Mashhadani, attributed Iraq's failure to exploit the gas associated with oil extraction to "political reasons that may be linked to pressures from Tehran on the political forces so that dependence on Iranian gas used to generate electric power remains,

in addition to the failure of Washington to grant Baghdad Successive exemptions from international sanctions imposed on Iran and allowing the import of Iranian gas to Iraq.

He said in an interview with the "Al-Hurra" website that the issue of relying on importing gas made "Tehran use it as a pressure card, as it was reducing the pumping quantities of gas at certain times."

Iraq relies heavily on Iranian gas imports to feed the electricity grid, as the country generates about 14,000 megawatts from the local grid, in addition to nearly four thousand additional megawatts by importing gas and energy, according to Reuters.

The problem of Iranian gas has returned to the fore again in Iraq after the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity announced that Iranian gas supplies to the central and southern regions decreased from 49 million to eight million cubic meters per day, which caused the risk of a serious energy shortage.

Iraq is the main importer of more than 80 percent of Iran's electricity exports over the past few years, according to previous data from the Iranian Ministry of Energy.

Iraq suffers from a shortage of electricity, which leads to its interruption at varying periods of up to 20 hours in some areas, which contributed in previous years to fueling popular demonstrations in protest against the low level of basic services.

Last February, the Iraqi Prime Minister, Muhammad Shia al-Sudani, confirmed in statements that

Iraq "will reach the stage of self-sufficiency in gas within three years," stressing that

investment in gas associated with oil and natural gas "stems from his conviction" to achieve economic reforms.

Iraq currently produces 16 thousand megawatts of electricity, which is much less than its estimated need of 24 thousand megawatts, and reaches 30 thousand in the summer, while

its population may double by 2050, which means an increase in its energy consumption, according to the United Nations.   Al-Mashhadani adds that

the problem of not exploiting gas in Iraq "is old and everyone has been talking about it for years, but it was raised on a large scale, in 2010, and at that time agreements were drawn up with the World Bank with the aim of Iraq reaching zero percentage of gas burning associated with oil extraction, in 2030."  Al-Mashhadani pointed out that

"several rounds of licensing companies and concessions were granted in the years 2009 and 2014 in order to benefit from this gas and separate it in fields in Nasiriyah and Basra and benefit from it in generating electricity, but they were not successful or completely forgotten."

The Iraqi Oil Minister, Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar Ismail, confirmed in an exclusive interview with Al-Hurra channel that

his country’s government considers investment in the field of natural gas a priority, with the

aim of achieving self-sufficiency and stopping imports, denying, on the other hand, the existence of any “Chinese interference.” On Iraqi Oil Policies.   He added,

"In 2018 and 2019, talk about this matter resumed, but in 2020, with the emergence of the Corona pandemic, everything stopped, and

the discussion about it was reopened in 2022 and early 2023, in the hope that it would succeed."

Al-Mashhadani said that there is no justification for continuing not to benefit from this gas, whose combustion amounts are equivalent to twice the needs of Iraq, and the treasury incurs $2.5 billion annually.

It is likely that the next few years will witness the start of benefiting from this gas in some fields, and

if Iraq invests real money in developing oil facilities and developing gas facilities to benefit from it, we may reach a stage of zero gas flaring in 2030.

Iraq burns more than half of the natural gas produced by its fields, more than most countries in the world.

This results in chemicals capable of causing many diseases, including asthma, high blood pressure and some types of cancer, according to the New York Times.

Iraq is among the nine countries responsible for the majority of gas flaring operations, which account for about half of the global production of oil, and according to World Bank data,

Iraq is the second most country in the world that uses this practice after Russia and before Iran and the United States. In 2020, the volume of gas flared in Iraq was 17.374 million cubic meters.

Views 225    Added 04/01/2023 - 9:31 AM

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