Iraq says Saudi Arabia to sell it power after protests
Iran Press TV
Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:51AM
Saudi Arabia has agreed to construct a solar power plant and sell electricity to Iraq, which is grappling with protests over power shortages.
Iraq's Ministry of Electricity spokesman Mussab Serri said the deal includes the construction of a 3,000-megawatt plant in Saudi Arabia within a year of the sealing of the accord, which has yet to be approved by Iraqi authorities.
According to the spokesman, the kingdom will sell the power to Iraq for $21 per megawatt-hour, or a quarter of price offered by Iran, which cut off electricity supplies to Iraq in July to meet its own domestic demands.
The deal comes after protests erupted earlier this month in Iraq's southern cities against alleged government corruption and poor public services.
The demonstrations in southern Iraq first erupted on July 8 in the city of Basra, an important hub for oil exports which account for over 95 percent of Iraq's government revenues.
Long neglected, Basra is one of the few cities in the Middle East without an effective water treatment system. Many of its waterways are stagnant cesspools, with state officials blaming it on a public funding crisis caused by years of low oil prices.
The timing of the demonstrations is critical due to the fact that political factions are trying to form a coalition government following the May 12 parliamentary elections.
On Sunday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi sacked his minister of electricity Qassem al-Fahdawi while the government investigates the reason behind the poor power service.
Iran cut off electricity supplies to Iraq in July as rolling blackouts and water shortages in the southern Khuzestan province in the face of sizzling temperatures touched off a series of protests.
Iraq has been importing electricity from Iran for many years after its power infrastructure was destroyed by decades of war and blockade following the US invasion.
The country needs more than 23,000 megawatts of additional electricity to meet domestic demand.
On July 17, Iran's energy minister said rising energy consumption amid a suffocating heat wave forced the country to cut power exports to neighboring Iraq.
Fahdawi visited Iran earlier this month to persuade the country to resume supplies of 1,000 megawatts but talks failed amid reports that Tehran wanted Baghdad to settle an outstanding debt of $1 billion.
Iranian Energy Minister Reza Ardekanian on July 17 did not mention the debt, saying instead that runaway electric demand in the face of scorching temperatures was diverting much of the electricity intended for exports to the national grid.
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