ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
The Iraqi government eyes Turkish cooperation in rehabilitating its war-hit electricity network and joining its neighbor’s plans to sell electricity to several Mediterranean countries, according to an expert. Turkey can contribute to Iraq’s energy projects through technical advice and expertise in energy, says another.
A man checks the many electricity wires attached to a pylon as the Iraqi capital Baghdad endures another stifling summer with only a few hours of power a day this summer.
War-stricken Iraq aims to take part in Turkey’s recently announced interconnected regional electricity network for southern and eastern Mediterranean countries with its vast natural resources in a bid to export a potential energy surplus to Europe via Turkey.
“Iraq wants to take part in Turkey’s master plan for electricity interconnection,” Luay Al Khatteeb, head of the London-based Iraq’s Energy Institute, told the Hürriyet Daily News on the sidelines of the “Iraq Future Energy 2011” conference in Istanbul on Monday.
Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız previously said Turkey was working on a master plan for electricity interconnection in the southern and eastern Mediterranean countries including Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Algeria during his official visit to Cairo accompanying Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sept. 14.
Talking about the investment opportunities in Iraq’s natural gas, oil and electricity, Khatteeb said, “Especially northern Iraq is a safe haven for investments.”
He said both countries already reached a total trade volume of $6 billion as of the end of last year. “Now the countries are targeting $10 billion in a few years’ time,” he said.
According to Al Khatteeb, the close trade bonds between the parties require more cooperation in energy. “Once we start to have surplus capacity, Iraq can be well connected to Europe through Turkey and export electricity through an interconnected regional network,” said Al Khatteeb speaking about the future plans of the Iraqi government. “These are goals for the future but they are very possible.”
According to him, if there could be a proper national strategy on the Iraqi side, these plans would be well implemented.
Developing gas fields
Iraq has an estimated 112 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves. The Akkas field on Syria’s border has estimated reserves around 5.6 trillion cubic feet; the Mansouriya field located in the northern province of Diyala has 4.5 trillion cubic feet; and the Siba field on the Kuwaiti border has approximately 1.1 trillion cubic feet of reserves, according to Iraq’s Oil Ministry. Kuwait Energy Co., Türkiye Petrolleri and the Korea Gas Corp signed contracts to develop Iraq’s Mansouriya and Siba gas fields at a ceremony in Baghdad on Nov. 14.
“Turkey has an important role in the region,” said Simon Stolp, senior energy specialist of the Word Bank, speaking to the Daily News during the conference. “The country can contribute to Iraq’s energy projects through technical advice and Turkish expertise in energy.”
Commenting on Turkey’s electricity master plan, Stolp said, “There is an ongoing discussion in developing an integrated network and Turkey will be a significant priority in that.”
Still he added that “the current transmission links of Iraq are still low in capacity for a regional network.”
Noting that Iraq needs nearly $4 billion in direct investment over 20 years in gas and electricity, Stolp said, “We continue the discussions and Iraq might take part in such a network in the future.”