EU and Iraq sign partnership memorandum
By Dafydd ab Iago | Monday 18 January 2010
The EU and Iraq signed, on 18 January, a memorandum of understanding setting out an energy partnership. The EU has been keen to benefit from Iraq's return to international oil and gas markets. A central point to the memorandum is developing Iraq's gas supply capacities by identifying sources and supply routes from Iraq to the EU. The US-favoured Nabucco pipeline project could then be used to transit Iraqi gas to Europe.
In addition to increasing energy supplies from Iraq to the EU, the memorandum also aims to improve cooperation in other fields, notably the general development of Iraqi energy policy as well as renewables and energy efficiency measures. "Iraq represents a vital link for the EU's security of supply. It is already an important supplier of oil and can become a key gas supplier for the Southern Corridor," said the EU's outgoing Energy Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs. "The EU can help Iraq to develop its electricity system and tap its vast renewable resources."
Other areas of cooperation specified by the document are: a 2010-2015 energy action programme for EU-Iraq cooperation; an updated Iraqi gas development programme; assessing Iraqi hydrocarbon transit and supply networks as well as enhancing safety and reliability of the pipelines; ensuring sustainability of Iraqi energy policy, also in legislative, regulatory and institutional terms; and preparing a renewable energy action plan.
EU policy makers eagerly note that Iraq could become an "energy bridge" between the Middle East, the Mediterranean and the EU. The troubled country is also seen as a possible natural gas supplier for the EU's Southern Corridor of gas pipelines. The Commission adds that the country has the world's third largest proven petroleum reserves.
[R] See IP/10/29, also FR