GE signs $1.2bn worth of contracts to upgrade Iraq's power infrastructure

The company will also help facilitate access to $1bn worth of financing through export credit

Ministry of Electricity workers are trying to maintain the electricity transmission network in Basra, Iraq, Thursday, July. 30, 2020. As temperatures soar to record levels this summer, Iraq's power supply falls short of demand again, providing a spark for renewed anti-government protests. Amid a nationwide virus lockdown, homes are without electricity for hours in the blistering heat. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani)
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GE signed agreements valued at $1.2 billion (Dh4.4bn) with Iraq’s electricity ministry to upgrade power plants, improve grid stability and facilitate financing.

The US multinational’s gas power subsidiary secured a $500 million contract to upgrade “mission-critical” power plants with a collective capacity of 6 gigawatts.

GE Grid Solutions also picked up a contact worth $727m to reinforce Iraq’s transmission network and interconnection with neighbouring Jordan.

GE will also help Iraq to access to $1bn worth of financing for the projects through various export credit agencies.

"Our primary focus is to deliver uninterrupted electricity, especially during summer months, to meet the needs of our people and industry. To achieve this, we have already rolled out a clear action plan,” said Majid Al Emaar, Iraq’s electricity minister.

GE's agreements were part of a wider $8bn worth of contracts signed by US multinational energy companies with the Iraqi government on Wednesday evening. Honeywell, Stellar Energy, Baker Hughes and Chevron were among the businesses that signed agreements with Iraq's oil and electricity ministries.

Rebuilding Iraq's power infrastructure, damaged by decades of war, is high on the government’s list of priorities. A crippled utility network has been a key factor behind protests across Iraqi provinces during summer months, when temperatures can easily reach 50°C, occasionally requiring government-mandated holidays to cope with the extreme weather. GE is implementing 14GW worth of power projects in Iraq, as part of a strategic overhaul of the country's utility sector.

Under the latest agreement, GE will carry out repairs and upgrades on power plants located in the provinces of Basra, Mosul, Baghdad and Karbala to maintain a supply of 6GW of power. The agreement follows the 1.575GW that the firm added to the grid in December 2019 and the delivery of 4.325GW to meet peak summer demand.

Iraq’s planned grid interconnect with Jordan will help by "decongesting the grid and securing reliable power supply”, GE said.

The company will execute "the design, supply, installation testing and commissioning of high voltage substations and specific overhead transmission lines".

The project will allow for smoother operations and delivery of uninterrupted power across the national grid in Iraq, the firm added.

GE has helped secure more than $2.4bn in financing for energy sector projects in Iraq so far, the company said.

Iraq has been courting large, multinational energy services companies such as Siemens and GE to rebuild its damaged utilities and reduce gas flaring, which has led to billions of dollars in lost revenue over the past decade.

In June, Iraq’s electricity ministry signed a contract with Siemens for a 400 kilovolt substation near Ramadi, in the centre of the country, as part of a $15bn programme to upgrade the country's electricity network.

The German industrial giant is building 13 132/33kV substations as part of its roadmap, with a focus on electricity transmission and distribution in Basra and central and southern provinces in the country.