Iraq resists US pressure to reduce Iranian gas imports

Electricity Minister Luay al Khateeb was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the World Energy Congress in Abu Dhabi. (File/Reuters)
Updated 10 September 2019

Iraq resists US pressure to reduce Iranian gas imports

  • Iranian oil exports have tumbled since the United States imposed new sanctions on Iran this year
  • Iraq has a US waiver to import Iranian gas, but Washington has been pressing Baghdad to phase them out

ABU DHABI: Iraq will struggle to generate enough electricity unless it continues to use Iranian gas for three to four more years, the electricity minister said on Tuesday, resisting US pressure to stop the imports from its Middle East neighbor.
Iranian oil exports have tumbled since the United States imposed new sanctions on Iran this year, seeking to isolate the Islamic Republic in a row over its nuclear ambitions.
Iraq has a US waiver to import Iranian gas, but Washington has been pressing Baghdad to phase them out.
“At the end of the day it is an open market,” Electricity Minister Luay al Khateeb told reporters on the sidelines of the World Energy Congress in Abu Dhabi. “The issue of electricity is regularly becoming a political affair in Iraq.”
Power cuts in Iraq have often prompted protests against the authorities. Iran supplies enough gas to power 2,500 megawatts (MW), as well as providing Iraq with 1,200 MW in direct power supplies.
The minister said Iraq now had capacity for 18,000 MW, up from 12,000-15,000 MW last year but still below peak demand that could reach about 25,000 MW and was rising every year.
Exports of gas to Iraq and exports of refined products to global markets remain an important source of revenues for Iran.
“We have balanced relations with everyone and people should respect it,” al Khateeb when asked about rising US pressure over its Iranian energy supplies.
The minister said the power sector needed investment worth at least $30 billion to upgrade the grid, which was 50 years old and had lost 25% of its capacity due to Islamic State attacks.
Al Khateeb said Iraq was paying for Iranian gas based on a formula averaging around 11% of the price of benchmark Brent crude oil or about $6 per million British thermal unit (MBTU). This compares to $2-$3 per MBTU in the oversupplied US market.
Iranian gas imports could be reduced if Iraq used more of its gas reserves rather than flaring it, or burning off the associated gas that is produced during oil extraction.
Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban said four projects were underway to help convert 1.2 billion cubic feet of associated gas into liquids and significantly reduce flaring.


Getting more women into leadership positions top priority: CEO

This June 23, 2018 photo, shows a general view of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (AP)
Updated 18 January 2020

Getting more women into leadership positions top priority: CEO

  • Saudi Arabia is focusing on the Business 20 (B20), making this one of the key engagement groups. Women in Business will be Saudi Arabia’s signature topic

RIYADH: The boss of one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest banks says that getting more women into leadership positions is a top priority.
Samba CEO Rania Nashar chairs the action council for Women in Business created by the Business Twenty (B20), which is the official G20 dialogue with the business community. It represents the global business community across all G20 member states and all economic sectors.
She said the council was set up to boost women’s particpation not only in business but also in global leadership positions.
During the launch of the B20 in Saudi Arabia this week, Nashar highlighted the under-representation of women in the economy.
“There is a gap of 27 percent between male and female workers; 75 percent of males are part of the labor force while only 48 percent of females are working,” she said.
She said it was important not to just talk about women as workers but as business owners.

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Saudi Arabia will host the 15th G20 Summit in Riyadh on Nov. 21-22, 2020.

“That’s why entrepreneurship is very fundamental to our task force,” she said.  “The majority of the finance development programs have incentives for giving loans to females; however, despite the fact that many large borrowers are females, the amount of loans granted to them is far below what is granted to males,” she added.
Nashar said that two-thirds of female business founders feel that they were not taken seriously by investors when they pitch for investments. They also feel that they are treated differently from their male counterparts.
Saudi Arabia will host the 15th G20 Summit in Riyadh on Nov. 21-22, 2020. The Kingdom is focusing on the Business 20 (B20), making this one of the key engagement groups. Women in Business will be Saudi Arabia’s signature topic.