Late Wednesday, Iran’s Oil Minister Javad Owji stated that Iran has received $1.6 billion in arrears from the Iraqi government for natural gas imports.
In a tweet, Owji claimed that the debt from prior years had been collected “a few hours ago” after “many months of negotiations” between the two parties, praising “active energy diplomacy.”
He also stated that since the beginning of the year, the volume of Iran’s gas exports has climbed by 25 percent compared to the previous year, and income collection has increased by 90 percent.
According to officials, more than $5 billion in funds from gas and energy exports have been frozen in Iraq as a result of US sanctions.
Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity declared earlier Wednesday that the “process” of repaying Iran’s gas debt had begun, adding that Iraq requires 50 million cubic feet of gas every day.
Ahmed Moussa, a spokesperson for the ministry, was quoted in local media as saying that Baghdad had begun paying dues for the year 2020 using internal borrowing from the Trade Bank of Iraq.
He said the two sides were in talks to raise Iraq’s energy imports, adding that the country requires between 50 and 55 million cubic feet of gas each day.
Despite its vast oil and gas reserves, Iraq remains significantly reliant on Iran for its energy needs, with Iran providing a third of Iraq’s gas and power.