How important is the electric grid connection pact between GCC and Iraq?

Enhances security of GCC electrical networks, raises reliability
How important is the electric grid connection pact between GCC and Iraq?
From the agreement

Gulf states on Thursday celebrated the electricity connection pact between the Gulf Interconnection Authority and Iraq’s grid at a ceremony held in the eastern Saudi city of Khobar.

How important is this project?

The electricity grid project between the GCC and Iraq is one of the most important infrastructure interconnection projects for the Gulf countries. It would achieve its most important strategic objectives, which are to enhance the security of electrical networks in GCC States and raise their reliability.

Among the benefits expected by the project are reducing the required reserves in each country, mutual coverage in case of emergency, utilizing the surplus, and reducing the cost of producing electricity.

The project includes the implementation of a two-circuit line from the 400 kV Al-Zour secondary station, passing through the 400 kV Wafra station to the 400 kV Faw station, with a total length of 322 km. The amount of capacity expected to be imported through the plan will reach 500 megawatts to feed Basra Governorate.

The first phase of the project is expected to be operational by the end of next year (2024), at a cost of up to $228 million.

Read: UAE tops Arab countries in electricity production using solar energy

In 2001, the GCC Interconnection Authority was established to create, operate and maintain the project.

The General Secretariat of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf announced, through its Twitter account, the start of the implementation of the electrical interconnection project between the GCC countries and Iraq.

Inauguration proceedings

Prince Saud bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz, Prince of the Eastern Province, inaugurated the implementation of the electrical interconnection project between the Gulf countries and the southern Iraqi network, in the presence of energy ministers of the Gulf countries and Iraq.

During the ceremony, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman bin Abdulaziz said that the start of the implementation of the project represents one of the projects aimed at strengthening the bonds of cooperation between the GCC countries and Iraq in economic and social fields.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman explained that the electrical interconnection between the Gulf countries and Iraq achieves tangible economic benefits. The project was a dream and has become a reality, he said, noting that it “enhances energy security.”

Saudi Arabia and Iraq are working to implement the principles of the interconnection agreement signed between them, which extends from the city of Arar (northern Saudi Arabia) to Yusufiyah (west of Baghdad), with an initial capacity of 1,000 megawatts.

This interconnection, together with the Gulf-Iraq project, when completed and operational, will support the Iraqi electricity grid and enhance its ability to meet its people’s electricity needs in the coming years, and the security and stability of the interconnected grids.

Iraqi Energy Minister Ziad Ali Fadel Al-Rezeij considered that laying the foundation stone for the Iraqi-Gulf electrical interconnection project is one of the important strategic projects at the level of Arab integration in the field of electric power and another artery linking Iraq with its Gulf Arab depth.

He said that his country is keen to adopt and complete electrical interconnection projects with neighboring countries, especially brotherly countries, pointing out that the interconnection project with the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and interconnection with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia comes within this context.

For his part, GCC Secretary-General Jassim Al-Budaiwi believes that the project aims to address the loss of generation capacity in emergency situations, reduce generation reserves in member states, reduce carbon emissions, lower the costs of establishing fiber optic networks, and provide the foundations for the exchange and trade of electrical energy, which serves the economic aspects and supports the reliability of electricity supply, and dealing with emergency crises.

The CEO of the Gulf Interconnection Authority, Ahmed Al-Ibrahim, believes that the Gulf Interconnection has succeeded in supporting the national networks of the GCC countries facing partial or total outages of the national networks through the ability of the Gulf Interconnection Network to provide instantaneous support by transmitting the energy necessary to maintain the stability of the interconnected electrical networks.

It is expected that the project linking with the southern Iraqi network will contribute to the consolidation of cooperation between the GCC States and Iraq, enable the supply of electricity to the southern Iraqi electricity network and raise its reliability. The project is also a step to enhance electricity trade opportunities through interconnection lines between countries, according to Al-Ibrahim.

Al-Ibrahim pointed out that the electrical interconnection project with Iraq represents the first step, revealing negotiations with Iraq to develop a vision for expansion and linking the rest of Iraq, perhaps linking Turkey, and reaching Europe through Iraq.

For his part, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Gulf Interconnection Authority, Eng. Yaqoob Al-Kiyumi, believes that the symbolism of the electrical interconnection with Iraq, being the first interconnection operation outside the GCC system, opens the way for establishing links with other countries.

He pointed out that the electrical interconnection project between Iraq and the Gulf countries opens areas of cooperation in providing service time for both sides and increasing the reliability of the two networks.

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