Sunday, May 2, 2010

Iraq May Run Into Electricity Problems This Summer

In April 2010 two separate power lines were attacked and knocked out of service. One was from the Baiji power plant in Salahaddin province that resulted in the loss of 200 megawatts of electricity, and left parts of Baghdad in darkness. Earlier in the month another undisclosed line was also hit. Insurgents and criminals target the power lines to either undermine the government or to steal the copper to sell for money. This was the last reported attack in quite some time however.

The Electricity Ministry announced that even without the recent incidents the nation’s power supply was down. Fuel shortages led to two power plants shutting down for a period, cutting off 300 megawatts. Another 180 megawatts were lost for other reasons.

Overall, the Electricity Ministry has big plans this year that may run into problems. On the positive side, the Finance Ministry said that it had raised $2.1 billion from local banks to fund electricity projects this year. That will go to help finance the installation of eight General Electric power plants in Taji in Salahaddin, Karbala, and Hilla in Babil by the end of the year. The Electricity Ministry is also going to add units in Baghdad’s Rasheed, Maysan’s Amara, Najaf, and two in Basra this year as well. On the other hand, officials in the Ministry warned that not all of these projects may come to fruition. Three difficulties are that not all of the companies have actually committed to these plans, the government doesn’t provide a constant supply of fuel to run the power plants, and there is a lack of parts, equipment, and maintenance.

Since the 2003 invasion Iraq’s power output has seen a steady increase, thanks largely to a huge investment by the United States. At the same time Iraqis went on a buying spree of consumer products, and still have large subsidies so power usage went up just as fast. As reported before, Iraq’s power output was down for the 4th quarter of 2009, the first drop since the start of 2008. Overall, the average Iraqi still does not have a steady supply of power, forcing many to buy a generator or purchase electricity from someone that does. The government is trying to address this issue in 2010, but the simple purchase of new generators may not be enough because of the problems outlined above. Better planning, maintenance, and supplies are also needed, but it’s unclear whether the Ministry has this capacity right now. That could mean a continuation of the supply and demand gap into the immediate future.


AK News, “Discords over power promises,” 4/3/10

Department of Defense, “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq,” 2/15/10

Iraq-Business News, “Iraq Raises $2.1bn to Fund Electricity Projects,” 3/21/10

Saleh Khayoun, “More attacks reported against power infrastructure in Iraq,” Azzaman, 4/16/10


RJS said...

Dude, they have problems EVERY summer. The Kurds though have some very large power plans coming online though and will soon be at 24-hours a day power. They're even starting to pilot a program for metering and collecting fees.

Joel Wing said...

So true, but the comment was about the Electricity Ministry's big plans this year rather than their regular problems. They have the biggest allocation in the budget and want to install at least one generator in every province by the end of the year.

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