Iraq inaugurated the Iraqi-Syrian transmission line on February 3rd, completing a two-year construction project to link its power grid to the regional electricity network.
The line extends 180 kilometres, starting from the Qaem border station opposite the Syrian border in Anbar province to the Teem station in the Syrian city of Deer al-Zawr.
The regional project was started in 1989 when five countries -- Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Egypt -- signed a joint agreement to interconnect their electricity networks, allowing them to exchange and import energy via transmission lines.
Since 1989, Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories and Libya were added to the project's signatories, and a number of interconnecting lines were inaugurated: the Egyptian-Jordanian line in 1998, the Syrian-Jordanian line in 2001, and the Syrian-Lebanese line in 2009.
"The line with Syria will allow us to import amounts of electrical energy from Egypt after having reached a final understanding with both Jordan and Syria," said Adel Hameed Mahdi, advisor to the Minister of Electricity.
Iraqi Minister of Electricity Kareem Aftan visited Egypt last December and asked Egyptian officials to determine Iraq's share of the 450 megawatts (MW) that Egypt is now supplying to Jordan and Syria.
Next month, a meeting is scheduled in Amman to discuss Iraq's request and to reach a final agreement on dividing that amount of energy so that each of the three states would not receive less than 150 megawatts.
Spokesman for the Ministry of Electricity, Mussab al-Mudarres, told Mawtani that Iraq's entry into the regional project will improve energy supplies provided to citizens.
"We expect that the coming summer will see a large increase in supply; in addition to the 150 MW that we will import from Egypt, there is more than 3,000 MW that will be added to the national grid before next July."
He said his ministry is working on a number of projects: a campaign to maintain and rehabilitate a number of gas and steam-powered stations across the country that would add 1,500 MW by mid-May; adding nine quick-install generating units that would add 900 MW by next June; and inaugurating eight Hyundai type diesel-operated stations in Baghdad and other provinces that would add 360 MW and a gas-operated Sadr station that would add 320 MW.
Al-Mudarres said the added megawatts would raise the average supply of electricity to citizens during the summer to about 16 hours a day.
Iraqi officials say that Iraq needs at least 14,000 MW to meet the rising demands for energy. However, it is currently producing about 6,000 MW, which only provides about 10 hours of electricity a day.
Suzan al-Saad, member of the Iraqi parliament's energy committee, urged the Ministry of Electricity to speed up the fulfilment of its obligations so that citizens can feel "tangible results, not just mere promises".
"Although there is talk every now and then of numerous projects being carried out by the electricity sector, the problem of electric energy, in the end, is still exacerbating, and the supplies have not seen the required improvement."