US grants Iraq sanctions waiver for Iranian electricity imports

Iraq suffered widespread power outages last summer. (AFP/File photo)
Updated 15 June 2019

US grants Iraq sanctions waiver for Iranian electricity imports

  • Iraq has had several extensions to the waiver first granted last year after Washington reimposed sanctions on Tehran’s oil sector

The United States has allowed Iraq to import Iranian gas for its power grid for another three months by extending a waiver to sanctions — but insists that Baghdad seek alternative sources.
Iraq has had several extensions to the waiver first granted last year after Washington reimposed sanctions on Tehran’s oil sector forbidding countries from purchasing Iranian energy.
“An additional 120-day waiver was granted to allow Iraq to continue to pay for electricity imports from Iran,” the US State Department said.
An Iraqi government source said the extension was given during a phone call between Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The State Department said the United States continued to insist on “diversifying energy imports away from Iran,” however.
President Donald Trump’s administration has said oil-rich Iraq must become more self-reliant for its electricity, including by harnessing gas energy and reducing flaring at oil production sites.
US energy giant General Electric is in the running to win a large share of multibillion-dollar contracts to rebuild Iraq’s electricity system amid intense US lobbying efforts.
Washington reimposed sanctions on Iran’s oil industry in November, citing concerns about its nuclear program and what it said was its meddling in the Middle East.
Iraqi officials have said they might need years to wean the country of Iranian power.
Iraq relies heavily on Iranian gas to feed several power stations, importing roughly 1.5 billion standard cubic feet per day via pipelines in the south and east.
Washington wants to roll back Iranian influence in the Middle East, including in Iraq, where Tehran holds broad sway over politics and trade.
Although Iraq has one of the world’s largest natural gas reserves, it has moved slowly to develop them and has relied on Iran to supply it with gas and electricity.


Big oil feels the heat on climate as industry leader promises: ‘We will be different’

Updated 22 January 2020

Big oil feels the heat on climate as industry leader promises: ‘We will be different’

  • Trump singles out ‘prophets of doom’ for attack
  • Greenpeace told the Davos gathering that the world’s largest banks, funds and insurance companies had invested $1.4 trillion in fossil fuel companies since the Paris climate deal

LONDON: Teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg slammed inaction over climate change as the global oil industry found itself under intense scrutiny on the opening day of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The teenage campaigner went head to head with US President Donald Trump, who dismissed climate “prophets of doom” in his speech.
She in turn shrugged off the US president’s pledge to join the economic forum’s initiative to plant 1 trillion trees to help capture carbon dioxide.
“Planting trees is good, of course, but it’s nowhere near enough,” Thunberg said. “It cannot replace mitigation. We need to start listening to the science and treat this crisis with the importance it deserves,” the 17-year-old said.
The 50th meeting of the World Economic Forum was dominated by the global threat posed by climate change and the carbon economy.
The environmental focus of Davos 2020 caps a year when carbon emissions from fossil fuels hit a record high, and the devastating effects of bushfires in Australia and other climate disasters dominated the news.
Oil company executives from the Gulf and elsewhere are in the spotlight at this year’s Davos meeting as they come under increased pressure to demonstrate how they are reducing their carbon footprint.
“We are not only fighting for our industry’s life but fighting for people to understand the things that we are doing,” said Vicki Hollub, CEO of Occidental, the US-based oil giant with extensive oil operations in the Gulf. “As an industry when we could be different — we will be different.”

‘Planting trees is good, but nowhere near enough,’ activist Greta Thunberg told Davos. (Shutterstock)

She said the company was getting close to being able to sequester significant volumes of CO2 in the US Permian Basin, the heartland of the American shale oil industry which is increasingly in competition with the conventional oil producers of the Arabian Gulf.
“The Permian Basin has the capacity to store 150 gigatons of CO2. That would be 28 years of emissions in the US. That’s the prize for us and that’s the opportunity. People say if you’re sequestering in an oil reservoir then you are producing more oil, but the reality is that it takes more CO2 to inject into a reservoir than the barrel of oil that it makes come out,” Hollub said.
The challenge Occidental and other oil companies face is to make investors understand what is happening in this area of carbon sequesteration, she added.
The investment community at Davos is also looking hard at the oil industry in the face of mounting investor concerns.
Greenpeace told the Davos gathering that the world’s largest banks, funds and insurance companies had invested $1.4 trillion in fossil fuel companies since the Paris climate deal. It accused some of these groups of failing to live up to the World Economic Forum goal of “improving the state of the world.”