Reporting by John Davison
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The United States has agreed to extend a waiver for Iraq to import Iranian energy supplies, including gas, two Iraqi government officials said on Monday.
Washington has repeatedly extended the exemption for Baghdad to use crucial Iranian energy supplies for its power grid, for periods of 90 or 120 days. One of the officials said this latest extension would last 120 days.
The extension was agreed because Iraq had shown it was taking steps toward becoming more self-reliant for its energy needs, one of the officials said, and less dependent on Iran, whose energy sector is under harsh U.S. sanctions.
“The waiver will be renewed because Iraq has undertaken important steps in investing in Iraqi gas,” one of the officials said. He said the recent Iraqi government approval of contracts to develop gas fields in the country’s east was a key factor.
“This is considered good as far as the U.S. is concerned,” the official said.
A spokesman for the electricity ministry said consultations were ongoing over the extension, and its potential time frame.
The U.S. State Department last extended the waiver allowing Iraq to import gas and electricity from Iran in October for a period of 120 days, meaning it is up for extension again this week.
Washington has insisted that oil-rich Iraq, OPEC’s second-largest producer, move toward energy self-sufficiency as a condition for its exemption for importing Iranian energy.