EghtesadOnline: Iraq can continue importing Iranian natural gas and power until June, said Joey Hood, charge d’affaires of the US mission in Iraq.
"Baghdad has an exemption from the US sanctions to purchase energy from Iran," Hood told reporters in Baghdad, IRNA reported on Wednesday.
According to Hood, US companies are doing their best to help the government in Baghdad in every way they can to increase the energy independence of the war-ravaged country.
Nonetheless, Iraqi officials including the Electricity Minister Luay al-Khatteeb have stressed that at least three years are needed to wean the country from foreign energy, Financial Tribune reported.
Iraq relies heavily on Iranian energy to produce power supply to its dilapidated power grid that is in dire need of rehabilitation.
Riots broke out in the southern city of Basra last summer when Iran briefly cut its electricity exports due to technical problems.
Last week al-Khatteeb expressed the hope that the United States would exempt his country from the new restrictions that have targeted Iran’s key economic sectors.
Close to 4 gigawatts (roughly one-third of Iraqi consumption) comes directly/indirectly from Iran -- either in the form of direct electricity export or through natural gas supply that provide feedstock for Iraqi power stations, Khatteeb said.
"As for now this has no alternative in terms of price, volume and delivery.”
Iraq is the biggest importer of electricity from Iran. It needs more than 23,000 MW to meet growing domestic demand. Years of war, civil strife, terror attacks and the US invasion in 2003 almost destroyed its power infrastructure creating a whopping 7,000 MW deficit.
Besides importing electricity from Iran, power plants in the neighboring country depend on Iranian natural gas to generate power.