Iraq needs to move quickly

27 July 2010

Plans to build new power plants to address chronic electricity shortage in the country is welcome news

Iraq needs to move fast. There is insufficient electricity generation capacity in the country and it is holding back the development of other key sectors.

In a bid to bring new power online, Baghdad has launched a landmark independent power project (IPP) programme, along with a series of plants to be built on an engineering procurement and construction (EPC) basis.

The size of the IPP scheme has since been reduced to five projects, but it still represents 3,250MW new capacity in total.

When coupled with the EPC contracts, the country’s total power pipeline stands at 10,980MW – which should be enough to meet its needs.

The resignation in June of Iraq’s Electricity Minister Karim Waheed after protests over power cuts cast doubt over the country’s ability to deliver its ambitious plans.

However, there are now early indicators suggesting that the IPP programme will progress. As a temporary solution, the Oil Ministry, which is currently headed up by Hussain al-Shahristani, will oversee the electricity sector until Iraq’s next national election.

Before 2004, the electricity portfolio was under the control of the Oil Ministry.

The additional responsibilities could prove a tall order for the Oil Ministry, which has other important roles to carry out. But it must succeed. Too much is at stake to put the power programme on hold.

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