Eyes future expansion

Iraq inaugurates first phase of link to import electricity from Jordan

AL-RUTBAH — Iraq inaugurated the first phase of its electrical linkage project with Jordan on Thursday, marking a pivotal step toward enhancing the nation’s power infrastructure through imports from Jordan.

The project, comprising the construction of 281 electricity transmission towers, spans over 330 kilometers within Iraq and extends an additional 6 kilometers into Jordan. It aims to strengthen the power supply in Al-Rutbah, a city in the western Anbar province that has endured electricity shortages for over a decade, primarily due to infrastructural damage inflicted by ISIS.

The commencement ceremony of this critical initiative was attended by notable individuals, including Anbar Gov. Mohammad Nouri and MP Haibat Al-Halbousi, head of the Parliamentary Oil and Gas Committee. This project is part of a larger effort to connect Iraq with Jordan and Kuwait, with aspirations to significantly improve the region’s power infrastructure by year’s end.

Designed to eventually increase the electrical capacity to 500 megawatts at 400 KV, following the activation of a tripartite link between Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt, this connection is expected to meet the energy needs of a significant portion of Anbar province. The project, which also includes the installation of several new substations and transformers along the route, is crucial for reducing energy loss during transmission and ensuring a reliable power supply.

Iraq’s Electricity Minister Ziad Ali Fadel emphasized the government’s dedication to diversifying energy sources and securing the funding necessary for the rehabilitation and development of the electrical system through contracts with reputable international companies. He also noted the expected opening of the Basra-Kuwait line by the end of 2024, which is anticipated to initially transmit 500 megawatts and later increase to 2,000 megawatts.

Furthermore, ongoing collaborations with the Ministry of Oil aim to enhance the electrical grid and utilize domestic gas for power generation, thus decreasing Iraq’s reliance on imported gas. Despite its vast oil reserves, Iraq faces rolling power outages, which can last up to 10 hours a day, exacerbating during the summer when temperatures often reach 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit).

The  power line from Jordan will officially begin operations on Saturday, initially providing 40 megawatts (MW) of power to the Al-Rutbah area near the border. Its capacity will subsequently be increased to 150 MW and ultimately 500 MW, covering several large parts of Anbar province.

This initiative underscores Iraq’s effort to diversify its energy sources and mitigate the country’s chronic power shortages, which have historically been dependent on gas and electricity imports from neighboring Iran. These imports are carefully monitored by the United States to make sure they do not breach U.S. sanctions on Tehran, which regularly cuts supply to punish non-payment.

AFP contributed to this report.