Syria Turns to Iran for Electricity, Leaves Regional Power Grid

Article Summary
More than a year and a half of violence in Syria has drastically affected the country’s power supply. Ziad Haydar reports that the regime in Damascus has switched over to getting its power from Iran, its major regional ally, and cut off its transmission lines with Egypt, Jordan and Turkey, ending its participation in a regional energy-cooperation project.

The Syrian power grid has cut off its transmission lines with Egypt, Jordan and Turkey, and replaced these countries with Iran, its regional ally. This is the latest development in a plan formulated three months ago by the Syrian regime.

Various media outlets have reported that Syria has gradually halted electricity imports from Turkey, Jordan and Egypt, relinquishing its presence in a regional electric project launched by Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq and Jordan. The project was established several years ago and consisted at first of these five countries, before expanding to include others for political and economic reasons.

Under an agreement that was signed with Tehran three months ago, Syria will be supplied with 250 megawatts of electricity. This quantity will compensate for the shortage that has resulted from the attacks on the power grid and the withdrawal from the regional electric project.

Last week, Agence France-Presse quoted Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz as saying that “Syria has suspended purchasing power from Turkey.”

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A memorandum of understanding was signed between Syria and Turkey under which the two countries agreed to cooperate in the fields of electrical power, renewable-energy generation and distribution to enhance the efficiency of the electrical grid. Under the MOU, Turkey supplied Syria with quantities of electricity which did not exceed 3% of Turkey’s total production. The deal was valued at $100 million between 2007 and 2008, according to official sources.

In a similar context, two days ago, the Jordanian Al-Ghad newspaper quoted the chairman of the board of Directors of the National Electricity Company Malek Kabariti as saying that “Syria has stopped the electricity supply from Jordan and Egypt over the national Jordanian network since [the Muslim holiday of] Eid al-Fitr.

“So far, Syria has not ordered any quantities of electrical energy. Before halting the electricity supply, the Daraa region used to be supplied with [Jordanian] electricity,” he added.

Syria, Jordan and Egypt are members of the electric interconnection project, which also consists of Libya, Palestine, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. Egypt supplies Syria and Lebanon with electricity over the Jordanian network.

Iran has begun to compensate for the shortage in electricity in Syria, which has suffered from significant losses in the past two years due to violence.

However, diplomatic sources told As-Safir that “the agreement with Syria falls within a cooperation between four countries — which consist of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Iran — for the exchange of electricity that Iran certainly excels in generating.”

Sources from the Syrian Ministry of Electricity refused to comment on the issue, despite repeated attempts to contact them.

According to the Syrian Minister of Electricity Emad Khamis, the losses inflicted on the sector have exceeded 10 billion Syrian pounds (145 million).

In the past few days, Syrian regions experienced power cuts after militants targeted a major high-tension tower near Aleppo, where fierce battles are taking place between the Syrian army and the opposition rebels.

The cooperation with Iran goes in line with Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi's recent announcement that his country is determined to export one million barrels of crude oil per month to Russia, Syria's ally, after European countries boycotted Syrian oil.

Experts described the last step as “the oxygen Moscow supplies to the Syrian economy, which is fighting to survive.”

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