“Until now, we have no alternative to replace imports of Iranian gas,” ministry spokesman Musab al-Mudaris told reporters on the sidelines of an energy forum in Baghdad, reported Reuters.
Iraq relies heavily on Iranian gas imports to feed its power grid. Iraq’s generates 14,000 megawatts on the national grid, with an additional 4,000 megawatts generated by imported gas and power.
Gas imports to Iraq from Iran will increase to 35 million cubic meters per day in June from 28 million cubic meters, Mudaris added.
This is expected to increase the power generated by Iranian imports to 4,700 megawatts, Mudaris said.
Iraq’s power needs are growing by seven percent each year, he said.
In the summer months starting in June, when temperatures across southern Iraq soar, demands on the grid reach up to 24,000 megawatts per day, he added.
Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbusi said in March that 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 Iran nuclear deal.
Earlier in March, 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.
Iraq is the biggest importer of electricity from Iran.
“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.
Halbusi warned Washington of the negative effect of “any hasty, uncalculated step to adopt policies and procedures against countries in this region.”
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.