An Iranian official says the Islamic Republic is losing the lucrative Iraqi energy market to Saudi Arabia.

Hamid-Reza Salehi, a member of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, told ILNA on Wednesday that the reason Iran is losing the $20 to $30 billion market is the government’s views about the private sector.

He added the administration wants to keep the electricity exports to Iraq at a minimum level because it cannot get its money due to sanctions, noting that Saudi Arabia and Egypt are replacing Iran there.

Salehi said that if the government had the right approach about the private sector, it would use its blocked assets in Iraq to help private companies expand their activities there.

Saudi Arabia and Iraq signed a memorandumof understanding on January 25 to connect their electricity grids, which can supply much-needed power to Iraq.

Baghdad relies heavily on Iranian electricity imports, while in addition, one third of its electricity comes from thermal power plants which use Iranian natural gas. However, during the last few years, Iran has always cut gas exports in winters and curbs electricity deliveries in summers due to its own domestic shortages.

Moreover, Egypt -- that produces an electricity surplus estimated at between 26 and 38,000 megawatts according to Sky News Arabia -- agreed in July 2021 to supply 700 megawatts of electricity to Iraq through expanding its power interconnection with Jordan.

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