Cablegate: Codel Baird Discusses Iraq's Energy Needs With

DE RUEHGB #2693 2251301
R 131301Z AUG 07




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Begin Summary: Electricity Minister Dr. Karim Wahid
al-Hassani outlined Iraq's energy needs to CODEL Baird (Rep.
Brian Baird (D-WA), Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT), and Rep.
Ralph Hall (R-TX)) in an August 11 meeting. Highlighting
security and fuel shortages as the two most pressing issues,
Wahid described his ministry's efforts to improve the
provision of this essential service to Iraqis. Because of the
great distances between electricity generation facilities and
Baghdad in particular, the national grid is particularly
vulnerable to interdiction. In order to address this, Wahid
noted, construction of new generation facilities located
closer to Baghdad is underway. In spite of Iraq's tremendous
oil resources, a dearth of refining facilities necessitates
the import of fuel for electricity generation. Further, lack
of cooperation between key ministries, notably with the
Ministry of Oil, hampers the GOI's ability to import
sufficient quantities of fuel. Congressman Baird recommended
that the Electricity Minister investigate renewable energy as
a potential salve for Iraq's energy woes. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Congressman Brian Baird opened the August 11 meeting
by asking for a brief description of Iraq's current energy
needs. Electricity Minister Dr. Karim Wahid al-Hassani
highlighted two main issues affecting the government's
ability to provide electricity to its citizens: the security
situation and fuel shortages. Iraq's energy infrastructure is
vulnerable to insurgent attacks, Wahid explained, and until
the restoration of peace and stability, the government of
Iraq's (GOI) ability to meet Iraqis' demand for electricity
will be compromised. With the advent of the Baghdad Security
Plan, the GOI has begun to achieve gains on the security
front, Wahid added. Once the security situation is resolved,
greater foreign investment in Iraq's energy sector
infrastructure may resume.

3. (SBU) Three major refineries, Bayji in Salah ad Din
province north of Baghdad, Daura refinery in central Baghdad,
and the Southern Refining Company in Basrah, constitute the
overwhelming majority of Iraq's refining capabilities, Wahid
said. The refineries are supplied by natural gas and oil
pipelines from major fields in the north and the south.
Currently, electricity generation meets 60 to 65 percent of
demand. Wahid complained that a shortage of natural gas
adversely affects Baghdad's power generation units' ability
to cope with demand.

4. (SBU) Wahid continued that the Ministry of Oil (MoO), by
failing to develop plans for renovating badly deteriorating
refineries or the construction of new facilities, shouldered
much of the blame for the electricity problems in Iraq. Many
of the pipelines supplying oil and gas for electricity
generation were not operating at full capacity due to much
needed repairs, he complained, and the MoO was not addressing
the need. Further, the Daura refinery continues the needless
waste or flaring of natural gas, Wahid added, but the MoO has
provided no plan for renovating the refinery to capture and
utilize the gas. Currently, the MoO, the Ministry of Planning
Development and Cooperation (MoPDC), and the Ministry of
Electricity (MoE) convene weekly meetings to coordinate
projects related to energy generation, but the focus thus far
has been on increasing the amount of crude oil designated for
export rather than electricity generation.

5. (SBU) Congressman Baird suggested that the GOI focus on
reducing the distance between electricity generation and the
distribution centers. Wahid responded that currently five
electricity generation plants are under construction in the
Baghdad area. The primary problem has been getting the
petroleum product to the plants. One possible source was the
oil from the fields east of Baghdad; however, that oil
requires additional refining before it may be rendered
suitable for use in the generators.

6. (SBU) Congressman Baird inquired whether the GOI had
investigated renewable energy sources as a possible solution
to electricity shortages in Iraq. Wahid stated that wind
power had been deemed infeasible, but that solar energy
solutions were being developed. Currently, 5,200 solar
powered cells were being installed throughout Baghdad to
power streetlights, and the MoE was investigating the
feasibility of installing residential solar powered cells.
Congressman Baird suggested putting Wahid in touch with a
notable expert in the field of renewable energy technologies.

7. (U) CODEL Baird did not have the opportunity to clear on
this cable.


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