By John Lee.

Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban (pictured) has reportedly said on Thursday that Iraq has contingency plans in place to cope with any stoppage of Iranian gas imports.

His comments come as the US increases sanctions pressure on Iran.

According to Reuters, Ghadhban added that he hopes no such disruption will take place.

(Source: Reuters)

An Iranian official said the exports of natural gas to Iraq are growing steadily and are expected to hit 40 million cubic meters a day in summer.

Managing director of the Iranian Gas Engineering and Development Company (IGEDC) Hassan Montazer Torbati told Tasnim that Iran’s gas exports to Iraq are constantly increasing and nearing a ceiling set on the contract between the two neighbors.

He noted that the exports will be rising as the hot season is looming with a surge in Iraq’s electricity consumption, adding that the daily export is expected to hit 40 million cubic meters.

Baghdad and Basra are the main export destinations of Iranian natural gas, the official added.

On a gas deal with Turkey, Montazer Torbati said Tehran and Ankara are planned to enter negotiations to extend the gas export contract during the last five years of the deal, adding that serious talks to renew the contract will kick off next year.

In June 2017, Iran started to export natural gas to Iraq after years of negotiations and settlement of financial problems.

Tehran and Baghdad had signed a deal on the exports of natural gas from the giant South Pars Gas Field in 2013.

Under the deal, the Iranian gas is delivered to Sadr, Baghdad and al-Mansouryah power plants in Iraq through a 270-kilometer pipeline.

Last month, Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity said the Arab country’s gas imports from Iran are planned to rise by 13 percent by January 2020.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

By Amberin Zaman for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Energy tops agenda of Turkish FM’s meetings in Iraq

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met with Iraqi Kurdish leaders recently on the last leg of an ambitious visit to Iraq, in which the Turkish diplomat unveiled plans to reopen consulates in Mosul and Basra and to establish new ones in Kirkuk and Najaf.

Cavusoglu also announced that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would pay a formal visit to Iraq before the year’s end.

The timing of the two-day tour, which took Cavusoglu from Baghdad to Basra and finally Erbil, prompted speculation that Turkey was turning to its oil-rich neighbor for help after the US administration announced it was ending waivers that allowed a clutch of countries including Turkey to continue buying oil from Iran effective May 2.

Click here to read the full story.

By Ali Mamouri for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraq struggles to distance itself from US-Iran tensions

Iraq is trying hard to dissociate itself from the rising hostilities between Iran and the United States, as it hopes to preserve its national interests without aligning with either axis in the conflict.

Following his recent visit to Iran, Iraqi Prime Minster Adel Abdul Mahdi announced April 9 that he will soon visit Saudi Arabia to sign economic and security agreements, as Iraq has done with Jordan and Iran.

A high-ranking Saudi delegation visited Iraq last week and signed several agreements, including ones involving electricity imports to Iraq and the construction of a large stadium.

Click here to read the full story.

Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbusi said he hopes the United States will keep waiving sanctions on energy imports from neighboring Iran, noting that the Arab country will need to purchase electricity from the Islamic Republic for three years.

In November last year, Washington granted a 45-day waiver on electricity to the Arab country and extended it by 90 days in December after US President Donald Trump’s administration reimposed sanctions on Iran in May, following walking out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Earlier this month, the US State Department extended the 90-day waiver for the second time to let Iraq continue energy imports from Iran. The original exemption granted in December expired on March 19.

“Hopefully this waiver will be extended until Iraq can stand on its feet economically,” said Halbusi at the US Institute of Peace on a visit to Washington, where he met senior officials, including Vice President Mike Pence.

Iraq is the biggest importer of electricity from Iran. It needs more than 23,000 megawatts of electricity to meet its domestic demand but years of war following the 2003 US invasion have left its power infrastructure in tatters and a deficit of some 7,000 megawatts.

“After these three years, maybe we can see Iraq as economically independent and we won’t need to import power or electricity from a foreign country. Maybe we can address this issue after three years,” he added, Press TV reported.

At a press conference held after his speech, Halbusi warned Washington of the negative effect of “any hasty, uncalculated step to adopt policies and procedures against countries in this region.”

The electricity shortfall in the war-torn country is especially acute in the sweltering summers, which led to violent protests in Basra in September and turned into a national crisis.

Iraq’s electricity demand is expected to increase again this summer and any cuts in Iranian supplies are set to trigger more protests and reignite unrest, destabilizing the Arab country.

In addition to natural gas and electricity, Iraq imports a wide range of goods from Iran including food, agricultural products, home appliances, and air conditioners.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

By John Lee.

The Trump administration has reportedly granted Iraq a further 90-day extension to the waiver exempting it from US sanctions on Iran.

CNBC quotes a senior State Department official as saying on condition of anonymity:

“While this waiver is intended to help Iraq mitigate energy shortages, we continue to discuss our Iran-related sanctions with our partners in Iraq.”

According to some energy analysts, without continued sanctions exemptions, Iraq could lose more than a third of its power overnight.

More here.

(Source: CNBC)

By Ali Mamouri for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani arrived in Baghdad on March 11 amid his government’s efforts to expand ties with Iraq to reduce the impact of US sanction on Iran’s economy.

Prior to departing Tehran, Rouhani remarked, “[Iran’s ties with Iraq] cannot be compared to Iraq’s relations with an occupying country like America, which is hated in the region.” The visit is Rouhani’s first one to Baghdad since taking office in 2013.

The Iranian leader’s three days in Iraq will include his signing a series of agreements on energy, transport, agriculture, industry and health as well as meetings with Iraqi officials. In preparation, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived in Baghdad the day before Rouhani.

Iran aims to boost annual trade with its neighbor from $12 billion to $20 billion to help offset US sanctions, which are strangling its economy.

Click here to read the full story.

From Al Jazeera. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

How will US sanctions affect Iran-Iraq economic relations?

The Trump administration is giving Iraq a few more months to continue buying oil and electricity from neighbouring Iran before the United States enforces sanctions against Tehran.

After years of conflict, Baghdad now relies heavily on Iran for goods and services.

And Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is visiting Iraq to solidify ties between the neighbours, trying to convince them to defy the US president.

Al Jazeera‘s Natasha Ghoneim reports from Baghdad:

By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iran questions Iraq’s promise to import oil despite sanctions

Iran and Iraq have quite different views of their relationship status, with Tehran claiming it’s been jilted and Baghdad declaring it’s being faithful.

Iranian Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh (pictured) surprised Iraqi officials Feb. 7 when he very publicly expressed dissatisfaction with Iraq “reversing some oil agreements, and refusing to invest in the border oil fields and to pay Iran its [$2 billion in] debts.”

He indicated that “Baghdad’s commitment to the US sanctions has prompted [Iraq] to revoke minor agreements, such as the Kirkuk deal, under which we traded 11,000 barrels of oil a day.”

Iraq ended that deal in November under US pressure. The United States has imposed sanctions on Tehran and countries that defy those sanctions by continuing to do business with Iran.

Zangeneh’s remarks contradict the outcome of his meeting in Baghdad with Iraqi Oil Minister Thamir Ghadhban last month, when they agreed that Iraq would import gas from Iran and develop some border fields.

Click here to read the full story.

By John Lee.

The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) has reportedly suspended oil exports to Iran.

According to Anadolu Agency, the KRG’s Ministry of Finance and Economy did not specify a reason for the move, and “it remains unclear whether the suspension is linked to U.S. sanctions on Iran.

(Source: Anadolu Agency)

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)