Fuel allocation and rising ampere prices: Iraq grapples with chronic summer power shortages

Fuel allocation and rising ampere prices: Iraq grapples with chronic summer power shortages

Shafaq News / As Iraq's scorching summer season arrives, hours of electricity provision have begun to dwindle compared to previous months, leading citizens to rely increasingly on domestic generators for their power needs.

Citizens have raised objections to the increase in the "ampere" pricing for the current month of June. However, generator owners insist that the pricing is fixed, set by the government at the start of every new month, based on criteria that include the hours of electricity supply, the price, and quantities of fuel.

The Governorate of Baghdad has set the ampere pricing for this month, with the daytime operation from 12 pm until 1 am costing 6,000 dinars per ampere, according to Qais Al-Kalabi, the Deputy Governor of Baghdad for Energy Affairs. For the night-time operation, from 12 pm until 6 am, the cost is 9,000 dinars per ampere, while the 24-hour "golden" operation is priced at 12,000 dinars per ampere. Generators without a fuel allocation can add an additional 1,000 or 2,000 dinars per ampere.

It's notable that the ampere price has increased by 1,000 dinars since last April, and by 2,000 dinars for the golden and night-time operations.

On the issue of fuel allocation for generator owners, Al-Kalabi explained to Shafaq News Agency that "the allocation is provided by the oil products distribution company under the Ministry of Oil. The more suitable the allocation is for operating hours, the better the operation, and vice versa."

Regarding violations by generator owners of guidelines and regulations, Al-Kalabi assured that "violations reported by district directors and deputy district commissioners, those detected by committees, or through complaints received from the Citizens Affairs Department, are all handled according to legal procedures."

Security forces periodically carry out campaigns to monitor the ampere prices of generator owners, the latest of which was held today. These campaigns resulted in the removal of generators violating the official pricing in several areas of the capital, Baghdad.

The Najaf Governorate has set the ampere price for this month at 7,000 dinars, with the operation to be carried out from 12 pm until 4 am, alternating with the supply of electricity, according to Ahmed Al-Fatlawi, the Director of Media and Government Communication in the Najaf Governorate's office.

Regarding the "golden" line, Al-Fatlawi clarified to Shafaq News Agency that "so far, the price has not been officially set, it is just an agreement between the generator owners and the citizens. In the coming days, the appropriate pricing for the golden ampere will be announced."

Meanwhile, Ali Al-Ghazali, the President of the Najaf Governorate's Generator Owners Association, explained that "in the past months, there were no interruptions in the national electricity supply as there are now. This cut-off repeats every year with the advent of the summer season, so an increase in the cut-off hours for the national system is not new."

In his discussion with Shafaq News Agency, Al-Ghazali pointed out that "the decline in national electricity is matched by a rise in the ampere price, especially for the golden line, which is not supported by government-provided fuel. Therefore, each generator owner sets the price that suits them, between 14,000 and 17,000 dinars, depending on the wealth of the area."

He asserts that "the prices have not risen but are the same as they are every year during the summer season. However, the citizens object to the generator owners about a matter that should be expected given its annual recurrence, which is quite perplexing."

Hussein Talib Abboud, General Director of the Oil Products Distribution Company, a branch of the Ministry of Oil, has declared that "the fuel allocation for private generator owners will be issued in June based on the preliminary survey carried out by administrative units, and supervisory committees will conduct inspections to validate the actual situation of the generators."

As to the size of the allocation, Abboud elaborated for Shafaq News Agency that "the quota is granted according to the scheduled power outage duration provided by the Ministry of Electricity, with the provision of gas oil at prices close to the official rates."

The Oil Products Distribution Company had issued an invitation last Sunday to generator owners who did not have a fuel allocation to complete their transactions for the purpose of issuing the quota. While it confirmed that the transaction process was straightforward, it warned that "strict accountability will be applied to those who do not comply with the specified price per ampere, especially since the pretext of the generator not being included in the gas allocation is no longer acceptable."

Iraq has been suffering from a chronic electricity shortage for decades due to sanctions and consecutive wars. Despite post-2003 governments investing more than $40 billion in the sector over the past years, Iraqis still largely rely on purchasing limited amounts of electric power from private generators scattered in residential areas across the country.

A report by the International Energy Agency indicates that Iraq's productive capacity for electric power is approximately 32,000 megawatts, but it can only generate half of this due to its inefficient transport network. Estimates suggest that Iraq requires 40,000 megawatts of power to meet its needs, not including the industrial sector.

In 2021, then Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi stated that Iraq had spent around $81 billion on the electricity sector, but "corruption was a significant hurdle to providing consistent power to the people, which is an unreasonable expenditure without addressing the root of the problem."

Every summer, Iraqis recall a statement made in 2012 by the former Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Affairs, Hussein Al-Shahristani, in which he claimed that Iraq would reach full electricity sufficiency and might even export it to neighboring countries. However, 11 years after this prediction, they continue to grapple with the issue of insufficient power supply hours.

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