Iraq has ‘contingency plans’ for its power grid in case Iran gas imports halted

Iraqi Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban said he hopes there will not be a repeat of power outages this year. (Reuters/File photo)
Updated 17 May 2019

Iraq has ‘contingency plans’ for its power grid in case Iran gas imports halted

  • A lack of electricity was one complaint by protesters in demonstrations that descended into violence in Iraq’s oil hub of Basra last year

BAGHDAD: Iraq has contingency plans for any stoppage of Iranian gas imports for its power grid but hopes no such disruption will take place, Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban said on Thursday.
He also said a meeting of OPEC’s ministerial monitoring committee in Saudi Arabia this weekend would assess member states’ commitment to a deal reducing oil production and that oil prices and markets were now stable.
“It’s still too early to predict what will be decided,” Ghadhban told a news conference when asked whether the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its oil-producer allies could extend the output cut or boost supplies.
The gathering on Sunday in Jeddah may issue a recommendation ahead of OPEC’s policymaking meeting with its allies next month in Vienna.
Turkey has asked to buy more Iraqi crude, Ghadhban added, speaking in Baghdad a day after Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi traveled to Turkey to meet President Tayyip Erdogan.
The United States is ramping up sanctions pressure on Iraq’s neighbor and ally Iran, especially over oil exports.
“Turkey has asked to increase its crude oil imports from Iraq and we have pledged to consider the Turkish request positively,” Ghadhban said.
Iraq relies heavily on gas from Iran for its electricity supply, which is stretched during hot summer months.
A lack of electricity was one complaint by protesters in demonstrations that descended into violence in Iraq’s oil hub of Basra last year.
Asked how Iraq would react if Iranian gas imports were halted, Ghadhban said: “We hope there will be no halt, but we have taken precautionary measures for such a situation.”
The United States is urging Baghdad to sign energy deals with US companies, including a share for General Electric of a $14 billion power scheme that Washington says would help wean Iraq off Iranian energy.
Ghadhban said international oil companies were operating as normal. He added that oilfields in the south and north of the country were safe and secure amid increased tensions between Washington and Tehran.
The United States evacuated non-essential staff from its diplomatic missions in Iraq over unspecified threats from Iran on Wednesday.
Sources close to foreign oil companies denied reports they were also evacuating employees on Wednesday.
The Kerbala refinery in southern Iraq will start operating in 2022 with a production capacity of 150,000 barrels per day (bpd), Ghadhban said.
Iraq plans to build a refinery with a capacity of 150,000 bpd near the northern city of Mosul to refine heavy crude from the nearby Nejma and Qayyara oilfields, the minister said.
He was speaking on the sidelines of a signing ceremony for a $400 million investment contract with Iraq’s Al-Barham Group Co.
Under the deal, facilities will be built near the Kirkuk refinery to produce 12,000 bpd of high-octane gasoline and 160 tons of liquefied petroleum gas per day.


BT warns UK that banning Huawei too fast could cause outages

Updated 13 July 2020

BT warns UK that banning Huawei too fast could cause outages

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to decide this week whether to impose tougher restrictions on Huawei
  • British PM in January granted Huawei a limited role in the 5G network

LONDON: BT CEO Philip Jansen urged the British government on Monday not to move too fast to ban China’s Huawei from the 5G network, cautioning that there could be outages and even security issues if it did.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to decide this week whether to impose tougher restrictions on Huawei, after intense pressure from the United States to ban the Chinese telecoms behemoth from Western 5G networks.
Johnson in January defied President Donald Trump and granted Huawei a limited role in the 5G network, but the perception that China did not tell the whole truth over the coronavirus crisis and a row over Hong Kong has changed the mood in London.
“If you are to try not to have Huawei at all, ideally we would want seven years and we could probably do it in five,” Jansen told BBC radio.
Asked what the risks would be if telecoms operators were told to do it in less than five years, Jansen said: “We need to make sure that any change of direction does not lead to more risk in the short term.”
“If we get to a situation where things need to go very, very fast, then you are into a situation where potentially service for 24 million BT Group mobile customers is put into question — outages,” he said.
In what some have compared to the Cold War antagonism with the Soviet Union, the United States is worried that 5G dominance is a milestone toward Chinese technological supremacy that could define the geopolitics of the 21st century.
The United States says Huawei is an agent of the Chinese Communist State and cannot be trusted.
Huawei, the world’s biggest producer of telecoms equipment, has said the United States wants to frustrate its growth because no US company could offer the same range of technology at a competitive price.