Iraq to import Iranian energy avoiding U.S. dollar: Iraqi official

February 22, 2019

TEHRAN- Iraq is close to finalize a deal for importing Iranian energy despite American sanctions by avoiding the U.S. dollar, an Iraqi official said.

“A big delegation came from the Iranian central bank and the idea was proposed to trade with Iran in euros,” Bloomberg quoted Abdulkarim Hashim Mustafa, the special adviser to Iraq’s prime minister, as saying in an interview.

“There are other ideas to pay in Iraqi dinars, or in oil”, the official added.

“The U.S. has been pressuring Iraq to end its purchases of Iranian natural gas and electricity, which meet a large share of domestic energy needs. In the meantime, it has extended to Baghdad a temporary waiver from the sanctions targeting Iran that President Donald Trump reimposed last year after pulling out of the Iranian nuclear deal”, Mustafa said.

“These are American sanctions and we have the right to protect our national interests,” Mustafa said. “We tell them always: we are not part of your policies in the region. The Americans are well aware of this -- it isn’t news for them”, he added.

After Trump withdrew from Iran’s nuclear deal in November, the U.S. government and its allies have been putting all their efforts together to isolate Iran and make the Islamic country bend under economic pressure.

Taking Iran’s energy market in the region has been Trump’s top agenda in order to succeed in his plans.

Consequently, the U.S. has offering the customers of Iranian gas attractive offers in order to lure them away from Iran.

To this end, the United States has even announced that it will provide facilities for the establishment of LNG complexes in Iraq to supply the country’s power plants.

But in December, Hayan Abdul Ghani, the head of Iraqi state-run South Gas Co. (SGC), told reporters that Iraq needed at least two years to boost the country’s gas production to stop importing Iranian gas used to feed its power stations.

“Iraq’s current production of gas is not enough to meet our power stations’ demand and therefore we are still importing gas from Iran. We need at least 24 months to operate new gas projects and start production”, the official said.

Meanwhile, Iran’s Oil Ministry, National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) and Central Bank of Iran (CBI) are working on ways for receiving payments from the importers of Iranian gas during sanctions.

MA/MA