The International Energy Agency and the Government of Iraq will host a high-level Ministerial roundtable on Thursday focused on investment and economic reforms in Iraq, especially in the country’s electricity and gas sectors.
The virtual round-table meeting will bring together senior Iraqi Ministers and policymakers, Ministers from IEA countries, CEOs and leaders of energy companies as well as international financial institutions, who will explore how to ensure that Iraq’s energy sector can continue its recovery at a time of constrained government budgets and tighter financing environments.
Participants will include Mr. Ali Allawi, Iraq’s Minister of Finance; Mr. Ihsan Ismaeel, the Minister of Oil; Mr. Majid Hantoush, the Minister of Electricity; and Ms. Suha Najjar, an advisor to the Prime Minister.
The roundtable will also hear from several other top government officials, including Mr. Dan Brouillette, the U.S. Secretary of Energy; Mr Kwasi Kwarteng, Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth of the United Kingdom, as well as CEOs of Siemens Energy, GE Gas Power, Total, Eni and others.
The meeting follows a call in May between Iraq’s Prime Minister, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, and the IEA’s Executive Director, Dr Fatih Birol, agreeing to work together, particularly in the area of electricity and gas reform.
The discussions will review the role that the new Iraqi government sees for the private sector in developing the country’s electricity and natural gas sectors, as well as measures needed to spur investment by energy companies.
The meeting is the latest in a series of top-level engagements that the IEA has undertaken in support of the Government of Iraq in recent years. Last year, the IEA published an in-depth analysis of the country’s energy sector, examining the problems affecting Iraq’s power sector and offering recommendations to address the situation, including the potential role of renewables. The report, Iraq’s Energy Sector: A Roadmap to a Brighter Future, also took a detailed look at the country’s oil and gas industry and its prospects for the next decade.
Since then, the drop in oil prices due to the Covid-19 pandemic has severely curtailed the government’s ability to spend on critical infrastructure. As a response to the economic and financial strain, the new government is exploring avenues to fundamentally reform its economy to reduce the burden on state finances, incentivize private sector growth, and make the economy more resilient to future oil price movements.
“The IEA has been a steadfast supporter of Iraq’s reform plans, with the country’s vast energy sector at its heart,” said Dr Birol. “The IEA believes that the energy sector is a fundamental enabler for the country’s reforms. We hope that this meeting will help get a better understanding for the government’s vision as well as share the experience of the private sector on ways to spur private investment.”