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Iraqi power plants short of natural gas supplies

Electricity output being hit by lack of volumes, expert says.

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Iraq, News

Iraq’s ability to generate electricity is being curtailed by a severe shortage of gas supplies to the country’s power plants, a leading industry expert has said.

The current shortfall has hit Iraq’s power availability on the national grid by at least 3000 MW, according to Dr Jafar D. Jafar, co-founder and CEO of Uruk Engineering & Contracting (URUK).

Major power plants such as Nainawa (6x125 MW), Al-Mansurya (4x182 MW) and Rumaila (5x290 MW) are idle because of lack of fuel, he told the audience at the Iraq Power and Iraq Petroleum conferences in London.

The irony is that Iraq is currently flaring more than 900 million standard cubic feet per day (MMscf/d) of associated gas in the South, he added.

Peak power supplied from Iraq’s national grid has exceeded 12,000 MW and electricity peak demand is estimated at 16,000 MW.

The idle power plants would go a long way towards reducing black outs during the long Summer months, he added.

Ensuring Iraq’s long- term electricity security will require a number of bold steps to be taken not only by the government; but also by the international oil companies (IOCs) that have development contracts in the country.

The power industry expert’s recommendations include converting most existing gas turbine (GT) open cycle power plants to combined cycle, Dr Jafar says.

Such a move would increase efficiency by up to 50% and add more than 4000 MW to the national grid at no extra fuel cost to the nation.

In the short term, the former Chairman of the Iraqi National Committee for Technology encouraged the Ministry of Oil to follow up aggressively with IOCs to treat and pipe natural gas from natural gas fields, such Mansurya and Akkaz, urgently.

Operational improvements are also required to reduce electricity transmission and distribution losses from the current 28% to a maximum of 10%.

The planned introduction of smart energy consumption metering should contribute to a substantial reduction in these losses, Dr Jafar said.

Moreover, increasing the electricity tariff from the current average of 1.7 USD cents per kWh to around 4 USD cents per kWh should balance supply/demand even at current supply levels.

Despite the political situation in Iraq, Dr. Jafar advised those responsible for providing fuel and electricity to expedite anti-corruption measures and facilitate the provision of gas to idle power plants as a national priority.

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