The Cradle
Iraq pays $1.6 billion debt to Iran for natural gas imports
Despite having large oil and gas reserves, Iraq depends heavily on Iran to cover a third of their gas and electricity needs
By News Desk - June 16 2022
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(Photo credit: AP)

Late on 15 June, Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji announced that the Islamic Republic had received $1.6 billion in payment from the Iraqi government for the import of natural gas.

According to Owji, the payment was made after several months of negotiations, crediting what he called “active energy diplomacy.”

He added that the volume of Iranian gas exports to Iraq surged by 25 percent since the beginning of the year, and that collection of revenue also increased by 90 percent.

The payment is integral to ensure energy supplies ahead of the intense summer heat, but on 1 June, Baghdad missed the payment deadline.

According to officials, more than $5 billion in Iraq’s funds remain frozen as a result of US sanctions.

Due to US economic sanctions on the Iran, Iraq is only allowed to receive Iranian energy imports via waivers that extend up to 120 days, a policy implemented by former US president Donald Trump and kept in place by Joe Biden.

The shortening of the time period is used by the US to pressure Iraq into finding alternatives to Iranian energy.

Baghdad says that the country needs to import 50 million cubic meters of Iranian gas per day during the summer and up to 20 million cubic meters a day in the winter.

Iraq mostly uses the imported gas to feed its power grid and produce electricity amid high domestic demand.

In early May, Baghdad and Tehran reached a new agreement on the supply of natural gas, according to the country’s ministry of electricity.

In an interview with Al Sabaah newspaper on 8 May, Iraqi Electricity Ministry spokesman Ahmed Musa al-Abadi said that Iran’s natural gas exports to Iraq will increase from eight million cubic meters per day to 30 million cubic meters per day.

Al-Abadi said that, despite the increase, the amount may not fully meet Iraq’s electricity needs for the summer.