The first deliveries of natural gas via pipeline to fuel the Duhok power station have been completed, the Kurdistan Regional Government reported on Monday, saying it proved Erbil’s ability to successfully develop its newly discovered gas assets.
“The Kurdistan Regional Government is pleased to announce the successful delivery via pipeline of the first quantities of natural gas from the gas field at Summail to fuel the Duhok Power Station,” a KRG statement said.
“Long-term deliveries are expected to reach 120 million cubic feet per day… showing the KRG can successfully develop its newly discovered gas assets in Kurdistan,” it added.
“This important achievement shows that newly discovered gas in Kurdistan can be monetized on a timely basis, and that this is the beginning of creating a gas market in Kurdistan,” the statement quoted KRG Natural Resources Minister Ashti Hawrami as saying.
“It is hoped to connect the Kurdistan gas network in Dohuk in the near future to the gas line that connects to Erbil — to enhance gas deliveries within Kurdistan to the domestic market,” he added.
“The policy is to keep the lights switched on in people’s homes, and provide cheaper, environmentally-friendly power to hospitals, schools and factories,” Hawrami said.
The locally-produced natural gas will replace diesel at the power station and is part of a KRG strategy to save the public millions of dollars every year in costly diesel imports for power generation, the statement said.
It added that the people of Dohuk would be “self-sufficient in locally-generated power by the end of 2015, saving well above $100 million on expensive fuel each month. The KRG plans to replace diesel with gas in all the Region’s power plants within the next two years.”
The announcement about developments in the gas sector come hot on the heels of the first sales of Kurdish crude through a pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan last week.
The three-province Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq is believed to be sitting on some of the world’s top untapped oil and gas reserves.
The oil-and-gas issue is a major bone of contention between Erbil and the central government in Baghdad. The KRG on Sunday slammed a reported lawsuit by the Iraqi government aimed at stopping the oil exports to Ceyhan.
Iraqi officials accuse the Kurds of taking too much liberty by tapping the region’s oil without Baghdad’s authority. But Kurdish leaders argue that the Iraqi constitution gives them the right to develop their own energy sector.
Iraq’s Kurdish regions were devastated under decades of Saddam Hussein’s rule and their own civil war in the 1990s. Infrastructure is slowly being rebuilt to improve public services such as electricity, fueling an economic boom in a region that remains Iraq’s only oasis of calm.