Another Hollow Promise By Iraq’s Electricity Ministry, End To Power Shortages By October 2013

April 19, 2013 at 11:07 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment

Another Hollow Promise By Iraq’s Electricity Ministry, End To Power Shortages By October 2013

posted by Joel Wing – Musings on Iraq

Iraq’s Electricity Ministry recently said that it would solve Iraq’s power problems later this year. This was not the first time that it had much such a bold announcement. That was also the reason why the remarks were met with widespread skepticism within the country. Questioning the Ministry’s statement is justified, because it has failed to reach its benchmarks before, and lacks the institutional capacity and support to deal with the daunting task it faces.

In April 2013, the Electricity Ministry promised that Iraq’s electricity shortages would be ended by October. The Ministry was quoted as saying that private generator operators would have to sell their equipment, because they would no longer be needed in just a few months. The Ministry made similar statements back in January, when it said that the country would reach self-sufficiency in power by the end of the year. The next month, Deputy Premier Hussein Shahristani who is in charge of Iraq’s energy policy announced that three new power stations would be opened per month until the electricity problems were solved. These assertions were immediately criticized. A parliamentarian from the oil and energy committee for example, told the press that the Ministry was exaggerating, and that the government continuously claimed that it would solve the electricity crisis soon, but never did. The lawmaker had grounds to be skeptical. The Electricity Ministry was actually misrepresenting its goals. According to its 5-year plan, the government is not supposed to meet demand for power until 2015. Not only that, but Shahristani has openly come out against the Ministry in the past claiming that its predictions should not be listened to, and that its numbers were only theoretical. Iraq is in fact facing large structural and institutional problems that inhibit it from solving its power problems any time soon.

This picture of convoluted power cables in an Iraqi neighborhood is symbolic of the problems that the country faces in resolving its electricity issues (AIN)

There are a number of interconnected issues, which have stalled Baghdad’s plans for resolving its energy needs. First, the country’s power grid needs everything from power stations to generators to transmission lines and more. It is also poorly designed, which leads to up to one-third of the power to be lost before it reaches consumers, the highest rate in the Middle East. That means that simply installing generators or building new stations as the government continuously announces will not end the country’s dilemma. In fact, if the entire system is not repaired and renovated, the Ministry cannot achieve its goal. Second, the authorities have not budgeted enough money for the Ministry. Its 5-year plan calls for $31.8 billion, but in 2011, it only got $3.2 billion for its capital budget. The government has also failed to attract private money for its effort, which means that the federal funds are all that it has available. Third, the Electricity Ministry lacks the capacity to plan, manage, and maintain the infrastructure that it has and wants in the future. That means it can’t handle the large contracts that it is signing. Finally, demand for power has continuously increased since 2003 due to the release of pent up demand after over ten years of sanctions. On top of that, few Iraqis pay their bills, and many that do have subsidized prices. That means there is little real control over consumption. In fact, after the Ministry’s recent remarks, Azzaman reported a run on prices for consumer goods like refrigerators and air conditions. Altogether that means there is little likelihood that Baghdad can solve the country’s power outages this October, or anytime soon. Until it builds up its personnel, emphasizes developing the entire network, gets the necessary funding, and puts a clamp on usage all of its remarks are hollow promises.

Every year the Iraqi government claims that it is close to solving the country’s continuous black outs and electricity problems. Every year it comes up short. The April 2013 announcement that private generators would no longer be necessary by October is part of this long list of promises that will ultimately be broken. Baghdad simply lacks the capacity to adequately plan for such a monumental task, not to mention fund, implement, and then manage and maintain all of the work that needs to be done on the national grid. Until the government addresses its institutional problems it will never be able to resolve this pressing issue, which continues to rank as one of the most important to the public.

Why Iraq Won’t Solve Its Electricity Problems Any Time Soon

February 28, 2013 at 12:52 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment

Why Iraq Won’t Solve Its Electricity Problems Any Time Soon

 by Joel Wing – Musings on Iraq
Iraq has had grand plans for its electricity sector for quite some time. After years of wars and sanctions the power grid is in poor shape and needs billions in investment to provide the public with 24-hours of power. That’s always been hard, because demand has skyrocketed since the 2003 invasion. That hasn’t stopped the Electricity Ministry and leading officials to promise that a solution to the country’s power shortages is just a few years away. An analysis of the industry however, reveals that Iraq is nowhere close to resolving this dilemma, because the task is too large for the skills and funding currently available.

Recently, Iraq’s Electricity Ministry released a 5-year master plan that outlines its goals for the power network. The 5-year plan calls for boosting production to meet demand by 2015. That is to be achieved by rehabilitating and expanding the existing transmission, distribution, and generation system. New power stations are to be built, generators installed, transmission lines laid down, etc. Deputy Prime Minister Hussein Shahristani for example, told the press in mid-February 2013, that three power stations would be opened per month until Iraq’s power struggles were ended.

The Electricity Ministry wants to reach 13,000 megawatts by this summer20,000 megawatts by 2014, and 22,000 megawatts by the end of 2015. It also calls for a seven-fold increase in natural gas supply to fuel all the new power plants. The problem is the Ministry predicated that gas would only meet 50% of requirements within 5-years. That means that heavy fuel will be used, which degrades equipment quicker, reduces production, and raises costs. This has been a chronic problem within the country for years, because the natural gas industry is so underdeveloped. Another issue is that if all the components of the strategy are not met, it cannot reach its goals. That is the larger dilemma that faces Baghdad, and there are no signs that it’s achievable.

The Province That Stood Up For Itself

January 29, 2011 at 11:11 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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The Province That Stood Up For Itself

January 26, 2011

Officials in Kirkuk decided to cut the electricity supply to the national grid to protest the lack of power in the oil rich city for more than 20 hours every day.

Abdulrahman Mustafa, Governor of Kirkuk said, “Kirkuk has cut the electricity that is generated in the province from the national grid, and has decided to supply Kirkuk province alone until the Ministry of Electricity responds to our needs”.

Supply to the national grid was cut in the presence of the commanders of police and Peshmerga after the first decision of its kind agreed between the residents of this multi-ethnic city. It was approved by the representatives of the Turkoman, Arab and Kurd groups, Monday 17th January.

Hasan Torhan, Turkoman member of the provincial council, said in a joint press conference, that all the members were agreed on this issue:

“We might have political differences, but we unite to provide services for our province. What prompted us to make this decision is the stance of the people of Altun Kopri (town) who strongly protested the lack of electricity and threatened to burn down the governorate building if they do not get their fair share of electricity.

“Let the government in Baghdad be informed that the world has become a small village and that what took place in Tunisia has reached a small town in Kirkuk (province) and can spread to every city in Iraq. We used to get four hours of electricity in a day, and now we have almost 14.

“The Ministry of Electricity has double standards regarding distribution of power to the provinces. We have in our possession documents that show that while the residents of KIrkuk get four hours per day, some other provinces get 10 hours or more. We contacted the deputy minister and the deputy Prime minister for energy, but they gave us nothing but empty promises.

“This is why we made a decision that will force the government to respond to our demands. And this is what happened: As soon as the electricity supply was cut, PM al Maliki sent a delegation from the ministry, and we will discuss with them the matter of justice for Kirkuk in power supply.

“Kirkuk is not the only province suffering from discrimination in this matter. The situation is the same in Mosul, some areas of Baghdad and some other provinces”.

Razkar Ali Hama Jan, Head of the Kirkuk Provincial Council:

“It is shameful for some officials to adopt discriminative and favouratist treatment with the provinces. They inmplement one policy in Kirkuk, Salahuddin (Sunni majority), and even some neighbourhoods of Baghdad, that has increased the suffering of their residents in comparison with the mid and southern (Shiite majority) provinces. The provincial council will file a formal complaint against the ministry for unjust distribution of electricity theough the national grid”.

After hearing all this, I just had to check. How much truth was there in these allegations of discrimination according to sect, so I spoke to our stringers in the provinces and asked for official electricity figures – And this is what I got:

Province                Hours of power in 24 hours            Population

Wasit                         10 – 12                                    Shiite majority

Amara                        10 – 12                                     Shiite majority

Basra                         10 – 12                                     Shiite majority 

Thi Qar                      12                                           Shiite majority

Muthanna                   12                                            Shiite majority

Babil                          12                                           Shiite majority

Diwaniyah                   12                                           Shiite majority

Diyala                        8                                               Mixed

Nineveh                     2 – 4                                       Sunni Majority

Kirkuk                        4                                            Sunni majority

Anbar                         4 – 5                                       Sunni majority


My neighbourhood      4

Although these are not all the provinces, the pattern is clear. Even I was surprised.

And Diyala is funny – Truely mixed!

Demand for electricity in Iraq today is estimated to be around 12 – 14 mw, and supply is just over 6 mw. Experts say that Iraq is not likely to be in a position to supply that much power before 2014.         

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