For the third time in the last three days, an Emirati-owned gas field in Iraq was targeted by rockets.
This Saturday and for the third time since the past Wednesday, the Khor Mor gas complex, owned by UAE energy company Dana Gas, was attacked by rockets; “The rockets hit around 500 meters outside the complex,” said Sediq Mohammed, an official from the adjacent Qadr Qaram district, adding that the attack left no damage or casualties.
According to a statement issued by the Counter-Terrorism Group, a security body in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, six rockets in total were fired at the Khor Mor gas complex. No one person, group, or state has so far claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Katyusha rocket attacks first targeted the same complex on Wednesday and Friday last week. The two previous attacks too left no casualties or serious damage. The gas complex is located between the cities of Kirkuk and Sulaimaniyah. But that’s not the first time that energy infrastructures in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq are under attack. They have been targeted by rockets a number of times in recent weeks.
For example, it was in May that minor damage was reported after a rocket attack hit the Kawergosk refinery in the northwest of the regional capital Erbil in Iraq. Likewise, and nearly one month before, three rockets were shot to target the same facility in mid-April.
Iran, a reliable energy partner
Currently, more than one-third of Iraq’s gas and electricity needs are supplied by Iran. However, the supplies have been cut or reduced several times during recent months. This has made Iraqis to experience blackouts and gas cuts almost on a daily basis.
Iraq has also been having a lot of trouble paying for the energy imports from Iran. And for this, there are a number of reasons. First, Iraq has been spending a lot on security reinforcement during the war against ISIS between 2014 and 2017, and second, because of the Covid-19 pandemic which caused an unprecedented decrease in oil prices, Iraq’s main source of income.
To resolve the payment problem, Iraq’s Electricity Ministry has said the “efforts of parliament and the government” are ongoing to allow the ministry to “find compromise solutions with Iran in order to pay the arrears and guarantee the supply of gas”.
Early this month, Iraq could pay a sum of $1.6 billion of the money owed to Iran for imports of natural gas in the past years. The payment came at a time when U.S. unilateral sanctions against Iran are still in place, causing serious economic problems for Tehran. Iraq is said to owe Iran about $7 billion for previous gas imports from the country.
To counter possible shortages of gas and electricity, the Spokesperson for the Iraqi Electricity Ministry Ahmed Mousa said last week that “Iraq currently imports 40 million cubic meters of Iranian gas per day but the country needs to receive 50 to 55 million cubic meters of gas per day for its power plants” to meet its electricity needs of more than 40 million Iraqis.
Iraqi Electricity Minister Adel Karim recently said in a press conference in Karbala that Iran has agreed to export 50 million cubic meters of gas to Iraq per day for four months, starting from summer. “Iraq will import between 10 to 20 million cubic meters of gas per day from Iran in winter,” Karim said last week.