Breaking: Iran, Iraq discuss gas debt arrears in Tehran meeting
Senior government ministers from Iran and Iraq have held a meeting in Tehran to discuss arrears on a multi-billion dollar debt Iraq owes to Iran for imports of natural gas in recent years.
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh and Iraqi Electricity Minister Majid Mahdi Hantoush met in the headquarters of the Iranian Oil Ministry on Saturday to find a solution on the issue, said a report by Oil Ministry’s news service Shana.
“Some 27 billion cubic meters of gas has been exported to Iraq up to now … but the payment is facing problems and we hope we could reach a solution on the issue,” said Zanganeh after the meeting.
The meeting comes as Iraq is pressing for a restoration of reduced gas supplies from Iran months after the National Iranian Gas Company, a subsidiary of the Iranian Oil Ministry, reduced the flow to Iraq over arrears on previous payments.
Iraq is seeking to have the supplies restored as it needs them desperately to increase electricity generation in the run up to a hot summer in the Arab country where demand for power is expected to soar to record levels.
Electricity Minister Hantoush said that Iraq is doing its best to settle the payments amid unconfirmed reports suggesting that Baghdad has obtained special waivers from the United States on sanctions that bar Iran from receiving the payments.
The money owed for gas exports to Iraq has been deposited in a local currency account in the Trade Bank of Iraq and is estimated to be the equivalent of over $5 billion.
Hantoush said that settling debt arrears with Iran would allow Iraq to kick off construction for a new electricity station that has been awarded to Iranian contractors.