Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Iran's power play in Basra

Iran has agreed to supply Basra with 175 megawatts of electricity, the head of the southern city’s municipal council said.

Nasseif al-Ubadi, fresh from a visit to Tehran, said Iran has promised to start furnishing the city with power “very shortly.”

The agreement comes as Basra, Iraq’s second largest city, suffers from acute power shortages with outages extending for nearly 20 hours a day.

It also comes as demand is soaring with the approach of the summer season during which temperature normally brush 50 degrees centigrade.

Provincial electricity officials estimate Basra’s needs for power at 550 megawatts.

But the city’s nearly two million inhabitants have about 150 megawatts at their disposal, leading to prolonged outages, said Zyad Fadhel, a head technician.

Even if Iran honors the agreement, Basra will still face a deficit of 175 megawatts.

Fadhel said the state-owned petrochemical, fertilizer, paper and steel factories needed nearly 200 megawatts to operate.

He said Basra’s electricity problem will ease if these companies purchased their own generators.


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