Iraq aims to boost power capacity

Capacity boost depends on gas field exploration deals.

Iraq needs help from private companies to develop its gas fields.
Iraq needs help from private companies to develop its gas fields.

Iraq hopes to boost power capacity to 27,000 MW within four years by opening its gas sector to foreign investment and sealing a gas capture deal with Royal Dutch Shell, a minister said on Sunday.

Reaching the ambitious power capacity target would depend mainly on finalising a venture with Shell to capture and use gas now being burned in the southern oilfields around Basra, and on output from three gas fields, which Iraq is auctioning off in September, Iraq's Electricity Minister Karim Waheed told the Reuters news service.

Iraq is close to signing a final deal between its South Gas Company, Shell and Japan's Mitsubishi, after it sent the final draft of the agreement to the cabinet for approval, Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al Shahristani said on Thursday.

Shahristani also said that Iraq will invite 45 international companies, which were prequalified for two oil auctions last year, to bid to develop Akkas gas field in Iraq's western desert, Mansuriyah gas field in eastern Iraq and Siba in the southern oil hub of Basra.

Waheed said if Iraq does not come to an agreement with Shell, the ministry will have to rethink its power plans.

Waheed put Iraq's available power capacity at 9,000 MW, and installed capacity at 11,000 to 12,000 MW. Demand is estimated to be at least 12,000 MW.

The OPEC member would need to invest at least $3 billion to $4 billion per year to reach that target, Waheed told Reuters.

He did not say how Iraq plans to raise such funds. It has struggled to finance its previous power generation plans.

Seven years after the US led invasion, Iraq's national grid still only supplies a few hours of power each day.

In Baghdad, electricity will be rationed to about eight hours a day in the hot summer months, Waheed said. With the new power plans, Baghdad, with currently 3,000 MW of power available, could have 24 hours a day of electricity in two years.



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