Iraq imported some $1.97 billion worth of natural gas from Iran last year despite continued American pressure on the country to reduce its reliance on the Iranian energy.
Iraq’s Alsumaria News reported on Saturday that the Arab country’s gas imports from Iran had accounted for more than 27% of Iraq’s total fuel imports in 2022.
The report cited figures from an Iraqi economic expert who said that total petroleum sector imports into Iraq reached nearly $17.5 billion last year.
Iraq is a leading exporter of crude oil in the world but it still imports huge quantities of fuels like natural gas, gasoline and kerosene mainly because its refineries are aging and because it has failed to develop the infrastructure needed to produce natural gas.
The country earned more than $115 billion from oil exports last year while its total imports bill reached nearly $55.2 billion over the same period, according to figures by Alsumaria News.
Iraq has secured rounds of waivers from US sanctions on Iran to be able to import natural gas from its eastern neighbor.
Washington has continuously pressured Baghdad to reduce its reliance on energy imports from Iran. However, Iraqi authorities have repeatedly stated that the country would not be able to cope with rising demand for electricity without Iranian gas supplies that are key to running its power plants.
Iraq’s increasing imports of natural gas from Iran comes as the country owes billions of dollars to Tehran for energy imports that have taken place in recent years.
Authorities in the country cite US sanctions as a main barrier to settle energy arrears to Iran.