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Saudi Arabia, Iraq sign agreement linking power grids

January 25, 2022 at 1:57 pm

Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud [Ian Forsyth/Getty Images]

Saudi Arabia and Iraq have signed a Memorandum of Understanding in the field of electrical interconnection, linking the two countries’ power grids and allowing the Kingdom to supply its northern neighbour with electricity.

The agreement was signed today at the Saudi-Iraqi Forum in Riyadh, and came as a result of a study reportedly conducted by the two countries which revealed an opportunity to cooperate in a regional market for the sharing of electricity as an energy source.

Secretary-General of Iraq’s Council of Ministers, Hamid Al-Ghazi, outlined the importance of the deal by admitting that “Iraq is in dire need of electricity, and this connection will add to the Iraqi electric power.”

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, tied the agreement into the Kingdom’s widening of its electricity supply to the region as a whole, saying that “Recently, Saudi Arabia and Jordan signed a MoU of electrical interconnection between both countries and, then, a few months ago we signed an agreement in the same regard with Egypt.”

The Prince admitted to Riyadh’s aim to become a regional electricity supplier, saying that this latest agreement with Iraq “is part of a goal to make the Kingdom a regional centre for linking electricity systems in the Arab world”.

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It comes amid the increasing bilateral relations between Riyadh and Baghdad over the past few years, especially in the field of electricity. In 2020, joint investment agreements were signed by the two countries to increase cooperation in numerous sectors such as energy, health and education. It was also agreed that year that GCC power grids would be linked with Iraq’s in order to supply electricity.

Those advancing relations are primarily seen as a much-needed boost for Iraq’s economy and development of its infrastructure while, for Saudi Arabia, it offers an opportunity for its neighbour to be less reliant on Iran and its influence.

Such ties, however, have worried the Iran-backed militias within Iraq, who operate under the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) which are funded, backed and trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC).

This time, last year, those militias rejected and condemned Saudi investment into Iraq, claiming that it could lead to potential political leverage.