Saudi Arabia has announced the launch of the powergrid interconnection project with Iraq, which entails the implementation of a dual-circuit transmission line linking the northern city of Arar in KSA to Yusufiya in western Baghdad, boasting an initial capacity of 1000 megawatts.

The agreement for the project was signed by GCC Interconnection Authority (GCCIA) and Iraq on the sidelines of the 'Jeddah Summit for Security and Development' in July last year.

A framework agreement was sealed between the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity and GCCIA in 2019 for the laying of the project's foundation stone.

Once finalized and operational, the project, alongside the Gulf-Iraq electrical interconnection project, will provide substantial assistance to the Iraqi electrical grid, augmenting its capability to meet the growing electricity demands of the Iraqi population in the upcoming years.

The project entails the implementation of a 400 kV dual-circuit transmission line connecting the Al Zour Substation, passing through the 400 kV Al Wafrah unit and reaching the Al Faw Substation, running 322 km long.

The anticipated capacity to be imported through this initiative is estimated at 500MW, thereby catering to the electricity requirements of the Basra governorate, said the statement from GCCIA.

HH Prince Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz, the Governor of the Eastern Province, inaugurated the Saudi-Iraq power grid project implemented through an agreement between the GCC Interconnection Authority and the Republic of Iraq.

This landmark event was witnessed by Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi Minister of Energy, Prince Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz, the Governor of the Eastern Province, and Engineer Ziyad Ali Fadel, the Iraqi Minister of Electricity, as well as a number of Gulf Arab ministers of electricity, Gulf ambassadors to the Kingdom, as well as several officials from both the Gulf and Iraq.

Speaking on the occasion, Prince Saud said: "The launch of the Iraq electrical interconnection project has thrown open abundant prosperity as well as extensive advantages to the entire region. Additionally, this project serves as a catalyst for a new era, ushering in broader horizons and expanding market opportunities."

Prince Saud said this project stands as a testament to the unwavering support and guidance of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister as well as other GCC leaders.

"Since its establishment in 2009, when the Kingdom embraced it, the project has consistently demonstrated its impact year after year, generating numerous economic advantages for the GCC countries. Notably, it has substantially reduced both the capital and operational expenses associated with the Gulf electricity network," he added.

Prince Saud pointed out that the project had furnished approximately half of the overall required energy reserves in the countries prior to the finalization of the electrical interconnection.

"Furthermore, it has established dependable, sustainable, and competitive electricity transmission services, yielding a positive influence in supporting and streamlining all developmental endeavours in the region," he noted.

"Through this collaboration, we achieve a multitude of objectives, elevating the stature of the GCC countries in bolstering and enhancing the value of the regional electricity market," stated the Governor.

"The project fulfils the aspirations of the people in the region for electricity trade and exchange, while also serving as an integral component of the comprehensive Arab electrical interconnection project, which aims to connect Arab nations with each other," he added.

On the launch, Prince Abdulaziz said: "The start of the implementation of the GCC-Iraq electrical interconnection project, which was signed on the sidelines of the 'Jeddah Summit for Security and Development' in July last year, represents one of the projects aimed at boosting cooperation with Iraq in the economic and social fields."

Highlighting the project's significance to Iraq, Ali Fadel said: "It is of strategic importance in terms of Arab integration in the realm of electrical energy. This project also acts as a vital conduit linking Iraq to its Arab Gulf counterparts."

GCC Secretary-General Jasem Al Budaiwi emphasized the significance of the Gulf Power Interconnection Project as a crucial infrastructure initiative linking the member states.

Its primary objectives include addressing the loss of generation capacity during emergencies, reducing generation reserves in member countries, mitigating carbon emissions, minimizing costs associated with fiber optic network infrastructure, and facilitating the exchange and trade of electrical energy among member states.

GCCIA Chairman Engineer Mohsin Hamed Al Hadhrami pointed out that the strategic projects such as these have consistently yielded technical and economic benefits for the GCC countries over the years.

"It plays a vital role in supporting emergency situations by preventing power outages within the networks of the GCC countries. This is achieved by promptly providing assistance during emergencies through the transmission of the required energy via the extensive Gulf Power Interconnection network, which spans approximately 1,050km from Kuwait to Oman.

CEO Engineer Ahmed Al Ebrahim said since 2016, the GCCIA and the energy ministries of Gulf countries have established a platform for energy exchange.

"This platform sets the stage for realizing the Arab aspiration of interconnection with Iraq, followed by Jordan and Egypt, thus creating the ‘Arab Common Electricity Market’.

According to him, plans are afoot to increase the investments in Gulf electricity networks by approximately $1.5 billion over the next five years.

"These investments will support three major projects, including the expansion of electricity interconnection with Kuwait, the expansion of electricity interconnection with the UAE and the establishment of direct interconnection with the Sultanate of Oman.

This increased investment in Gulf electricity networks will boost the capacity for power grid interconnection.

"Our forthcoming plan for interconnection beyond the GCC system involves connecting with Jordan and Egypt, and they are presently conducting the final feasibility study for interconnection to reach Europe," he added.

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