EU official in Iraq on energy talks

BAGHDAD, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- A top European Commission energy adviser is in Baghdad to discuss an Iraq-EU "strategic partnership," which the two sides announced earlier this month.

Faouzi Bensarsa is building on joint energy cooperation plans, which include developing Iraqi natural gas for the Arab gas pipeline to feed European consumers.


Bansarsa's meetings in Iraq will "examine the possibility of setting up a strategic partnership in energy between Iraq and the European Union," according to an EU statement, Voices of Iraq news agency reports. "Energy is a fundamental element for the development of the Iraqi economy."

"It's a promising new supplier," said Ferran Tarradellas, spokesman for EU Commissioner for Energy Andris Piebalgs, following the commissioner's meeting with Iraq Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani earlier this month. Citing Iraq's 10th-largest gas and third-largest oil reserves, Tarradellas added, "It's not that far from the European Union."

UPI was told by a member of the U.S.-led Energy Fusion Cell in Iraq "the (Iraqi) central government has directed the European Commission and accepted the European Commission's offer to rewrite the electricity law and establish a modern electricity framework along the lines of that which has been adopted and is functioning in Jordan."


Turkey is also working with the United States to develop gas in Iraq's north, which could run in a future gas pipeline along the current oil pipelines, feeding Turkish demand as well as Europe, looking to diversify from its heavy Russian reliance.

The EU statement also referred to Iraq's "huge potential for renewable energy, particularly solar energy."

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