Dubai — Iraq and French oil major Total are in talks to jointly work on developing associated gas and solar power projects, the country's oil minister said March 17, as OPEC's second largest producer seeks to reduce dependence on Iranian energy imports needed for power generation.
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Iraq and Total, which signed on Jan. 27 a memorandum of understanding for developing "big projects", want to cooperate on associated gas projects in Ratawi in the south, Diyala in the east and Anbar in the northeast, Ihsan Ismaael said in a ministry statement.
Iraq's oil minister and a Total delegation also discussed potential development of solar power projects in the country's central and southern provinces. The two sides also discussed Total's potential support and financing of oil infrastructure projects.
Iraq is trying to lower its dependence on Iranian gas and electricity imports as it comes under increasing US pressure. Since the US imposed sanctions on Tehran's energy sector in 2018, Iraq has been receiving waivers from Washington to continue importing energy from Iran.
Iraq needs Iranian energy imports to avert acute power shortages that have led to protests in the past, especially in the hot summer months when temperatures can reach 50 C in the south.
Iraq mainly produces gas that is pumped with oil, which is subject to OPEC+ quota restrictions, limiting the amount that can be used for power generation. Iraq also plans to capture associated gas that is mostly burned, with the country branded as the world's second worst gas flaring nation after Russia in 2019, according to a World Bank report.
Iraq has plans to import electricity from Saudi Arabia, the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, Turkey and Jordan and is also mulling developing solar power projects to help plug power shortages.
Total has limited operations in Iraq compared to other oil majors such as ExxonMobil, Eni and BP.
The French company has a 22.5% stake in Halfaya oil field in Missan province in the south and also holds an 18% stake in Sarsang exploration block in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region in the north.