May 28, 2008 —
Lt. Gen. Abdul-Aziz Abdel-Rahman al-Mufti reads through a slide presentationat an energy conference held at Contingency Operating Base Spiecher in Tikrit, Iraq, May 28. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Opal Vaughn)
TIKRIT, Iraq, May 29, 2008) – Northern Iraq leaders came together for an energy conference, May 28, at Contingency Operating Base Spiecher located in the province of Salah ad Din.
The conference, which lasted until mid-day, covered the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity within the northern region of Iraq. All four northern provinces: Kirkuk, Diyala, Salah ad Din and Ninewah had official representation at the conference, and they all spoke on their areas within the region, and expertise.
The Kurdish Regional Government was also in attendance with officials representing its three Kurdish provinces: Sulaimaniya, Arbil and Dohuk.
The Iraq Minister of Electricity, Iraqi military leaders and Coalition Force Soldiers were in attendance to bring awareness of the energy issues and to develop possible means for resolving some of the lingering problems northern Iraqis are facing with their electricity deficit.
Lt. Gen. Abdul-Aziz Abdel-Rahman al-Mufti, commander of 4th Iraqi Army Division, spoke about the Iraqi army military capabilities and the security issues around the electricity plants.
“Things are certainly getting better,” said Lt. Col. Butch Graham the division engineer for Task Force Iron and Multi-National Division –North.
Northern Iraq oil companies have produced nearly 20 billion barrels of oil in April. Of this, 13.6 barrels were exported earning over 1.5 billion U.S. dollars for the Iraqi people.
“These efforts have been critical to keeping the power plants running, industries producing and the home cooking stoves lit,” Graham said.
With many questions and ideas for the long and short term plans batted back and forth between the attendees, there were concerns of financial strain on the provinces and security restraints.
Military and government leaders along with engineers spoke about interim solutions to the energy issues while the Iraqi provinces are able to grow their larger generation plants.
“We have an unbelievable opportunity in this point in the history of Iraq, not to be penny wise and megawatt poor, so if we can tolerate a little inefficiency for the next two years there is a risk of growing Iraq and bringing this nation together,” said Brig. Gen. Tony Thomas, deputy commander of MND-North. “I would say that this would be money well spent,” he added.