Iraq says it will write off debts to Iran soon
Iranian and Iraqi officials have agreed to an agreement to settle Baghdad’s debts to Tehran, the spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity said.
“There are debts that we have to pay on the Iranian side… we have reached an agreement on a debt repayment schedule and Iran is to resume its natural gas exports to Iraq in the coming days,” Ahmad said. Mousa, quoted by the Fars news agency. He did not give further details on the arrangements.
In December, the Iranian National Gas Company said Iraq owed more than $ 6 billion in unpaid energy bills. Debt includes $ 2 billion in arrears and $ 1 billion in breaches of contracts. Three billion dollars are blocked by the Trade Bank of Iraq, due to the American economic blockade and banking restrictions.
Iran has exported 65 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity to Iraq since 2005 with an estimated value of $ 6.2 billion. The neighbor is one of the largest regional markets for Iranian exports. Twenty million cubic meters of gas are also exported every day (worth $ 200 million per month).
Ali Abdul-Amir Allawi, Iraqi Minister of Finance, Majid Mahdi Hantoush, Minister of Electricity and Salem Chalabi, CEO of the Trade Bank of Iraq met last week with Iranian ministers of energy and oil.
Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh expressed his hopes for a swift settlement of debts to Iran, adding that Iran is ready to increase its gas exports to the neighbor.
According to Mousa, imports of natural gas from Iran are currently 20 million cubic meters per day, or less than a third of the 70 million cubic meters contracted per day. Iraq must meet its peak summer demand as temperatures rise to over 50 ° C.
Once Iran resumes its gas exports, Iraq’s electricity production will reach 22,000 MW, Moussa said. But this is still likely to be well below peak demand.
In the meantime, Iran plans to use its frozen foreign exchange resources in Iraq to pay for COVID-19 vaccine orders.
The Iraqi government was to release $ 125 million in debt to Iran to pay for Iran’s Covid-19 vaccine order, the Energy Minister announced last week.
The money was to be transferred via a Swiss bank to the Covid Vaccination Global Access (COVAX) program for 16 million doses, according to Reza Ardakanian.
Earlier this month, Ardakanian said Baghdad would pay for Tehran’s order to buy Russian Sputnik-V Covid vaccine as part of a deal to settle its debts.
Iran has placed orders for 62 million doses of the Russian vaccine. It is stepping up its own vaccine rollout as it receives more delayed vaccine shipments on COVAX.
COVAX delivered 1.452 million shots of Italy-made AstraZeneca vaccine to Iran last week, bringing the total vaccines donated by the world organization to 2.23 million, out of the 16.8 million COVAX it has agreed to deliver.
Iran’s total number of Covid infections surpassed 2.95 million on Friday. Reports say more than 536,643 Iranians have been fully immunized and more than 4.15 million have received the first dose.
Iran has administered 4.69 million jabs since the start of the national vaccination campaign. On Friday, the health ministry reported 155 deaths from the coronavirus, bringing the national toll to 80,8013.