Iraq's pollution and carbon emissions are a major concern, but the government's focus on harnessing natural gas resources could lead to a significant improvement in conditions, the chief executive of Sharjah-based Crescent Petroleum has said.
Iraq, Opec’s second-largest producer behind Saudi Arabia, is "facing the global challenge of climate change, but also faces a number of specific local issues including water shortages and the issue of air, land, and water pollution that must be tackled", Majid Jafar told the Atlantic Council Iraq Initiative Conference in Washington, DC on Tuesday.
“We are very pleased to see the government of Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani treating natural gas as a priority, particularly for power generation and for economic growth and development,” Mr Jafar said.
“But also, how we as an industry produce gas is important; it must be cleaner and decarbonised.”
This month, Crescent Petroleum and the Iraqi Oil Ministry put into effect three agreements to develop oil and gasfields in the country.
The company, which signed the three 20-year contracts in February, is expected to produce 400 million standard cubic feet per day of natural gas within a period of one and a half years.
In October, Iraq said it would award 30 new oil and gas projects in its “fifth +” and sixth licensing rounds.
The “fifth +” round comprises 16 new projects, some of which were not awarded in the fifth licensing round, while the sixth licensing round will include 14 projects.
Iraq's electricity demand is set to double between 2019 and 2030, with its supply shortfall expected to widen as its population grows by more than a million a year, the International Energy Agency said.
The country's electricity demand in summer exceeds 35 gigawatts but its obsolete plants and grid can produce only about 25 gigawatts, resulting in lengthy power cuts and the use of expensive and contaminating private diesel generators.
The private sector, in partnership with the government, will play a key role in effecting change, Mr Jafar said.
“The focus must be on building institutional capacity to tackle [challenges],” he said.
"The private sector has a duty in this to bring international best practices and instil a culture of health and safety, as well as environmental awareness.
“Then the government must revise the regulations and enforce them.”