05 September 2006

Quiet and Hidden News of Iraq, Update and More

Needless to say my first foray to get a decent scope on the figures on what is going on in Iraq needs revising. Amazing how a few news sources suddenly start popping up when you aren't looking... Like the US Army Corps of Engineers website on Rebuilding Iraq. They have a weekly update download in pdf form here, don't know if the address changes by week or not.
Also note the USACE keeps a nice links page to National and Regional and even some Municipal governments in Iraq.

First I will recap on electrical energy production. From James Crum director of the Iraq Project and Construction Office (31 AUG 2006 COMTEX via tradingcharts.com):

U.S. projects have added or restored some 2,700 Megawatts of electrical generation capacity to Iraq's electrical grid. Peak electricity generation in Iraq is currently around 4,900 megawatts compared to an average of 4,300 in 2002. In the pre-war period, Baghdad received a greater share of electricity at the expense of the rest of the country. Power is more equitably distributed today, and on average Iraqis outside of Baghdad receive more hours of power than before the war. The residents around the country are receiving 12 to 14 hours of electricity, and those in and around Baghdad are receiving up to 8 hours of electrical power during the summer's high demand period.
Yes, they still have high aims and appear to be doing a upgrades while also installing new capacity. That is a tough choice to make, as if you use old capacity that is wearing out to its fullest, it may not be in a state that is easily repairable and could even fail in operation during peak load times. A tough decision to make, but one that needs be made. They are short of their goals but working hard towards them. So the current 4,900 MW is reaching people during the vital peak usage hours when air conditioning and active cooling is most needed and that is the important point. There is fair and equitable distribution of electrical energy so that all of Iraq may benefit and measure the growth rate of that as time goes on. Now if only they could get electrical meters installed... but first getting a semblance of peace in place. THEN start charging for electricity.

What is even more important is that there is now *context* for this rebuilding effort in the form of an overview of the electrical situation in Iraq, which looks at the timeline of events for the past 30 years or so, the current size of the Nation, what its infrastructure for electrical capability is and what the goals of the work are. That is seen via The Iraq Challenge document at the USACE-RI website:
Electricity affects every job in every industry. Poor supply negatively affects employment and GDP growth. Without an improvement in electricity availability, it will be difficult for the Iraqi economy to recover.

Improvement of available electricity is crucial to support essential public services such as water supply, sanitation and hospitals.

Most Iraqis today must rely on costly alternatives for electricity. Demand for electricity is currently growing faster than it is able to be supplied. It is expected that there will be a gap between supply and demand of electricity in Iraq for several years, especially as there is virtually no cost for its use.

The power system in Iraq has not had any real money put into it for about 20 years. It’s estimated it will take approximately $20 billion to make Iraq’s electrical system fully functional and meet growing demand as consumers purchase previously-unavailable products.
No, the nasty little USA is *not* the cause of these troubles. Saddam didn't bother to keep up the outlying system so that he could *reward* cities that were good and *punish* cities that were bad with electricity. No need to keep up a robust electrical system for that. And for everyone that is misunderstanding average load vice peak load, here is the problem in a nutshell:
Iraq’s actual feasible capacity is estimated at 6,800 MW due to worn-out generating units,improper operation and maintenance, and incorrect fuel usage. The objective is to bring generation capacity up to about 6,000 MW.
Feasible electrical production is pretty close to *perfect world* capability which a Nation without any interior problems could try to achieve. Getting up to something less than that for average production with surge capacity available for peak hours is attainable in this environment at this time. This is pretty close to the 80/20 rule: 20% of the capacity will take longer to bring on line so the first 80% is done first. Put time and effort into the easy refurbishing jobs and get that equipment in good working order and use the other 20% sparingly if at all. The timeline tells much of this story:
1990 After the Iran-Iraq war, Iraq was only able to produce about 3,400MW
1991 After the First Gulf War, capacity dropped even further to 2,325MW
2003 (Mar)Repairs to the system restored capacity to 4,200MW
2003 (Apr)Capacity dropped after the Second Gulf War to 2,500MW
2004 (Jan-May)Average capacity was restored to 3,550MW
2004 (Jun-Oct)Average capacity rose to 4,250MW
2004 (Nov) Unexpectedly rapid infrastructure decay dropped capacity to 3,250MW
2005 (Jan-Feb)Average capacity rose slightly to 3,550MW
2005 (Summer Peak)Peak generation was 5,390MW
2005 (Mar-Apr)Average capacity climbed to 4,100MW
2006 Current demand is approximate
Again, as more capacity moves online to average production capacity peak capacity will rise in a non-proportionate manner as the old equipment is not fully available for use. Then there is what the US has commitment to do, and it is nowhere near the entire job:
In all, the PCO Electricity Sector is responsible for 434 projects valued at approximately $3.2 billion. This figure includes about $140 million of non-construction funds allocated for equipment and training.
Yes, folks, *training*. You do not become a skilled worker at an electrical plant or power substation overnight. And learning to actively *manage* an electrical grid is something that requires a huge amount of expertise. From the Operation and Maintenance (O&M) side to the new procurement to the management and distribution end, Iraq needs training in all of these things, plus good contract accountability. They are learning from the USACE as *anyone* who can work through the byzantine system of Louisiana politics to get any sort of a water project done that actually helps the Nation should be able to handle a few obstreperous Arab clan elders. Piece of cake!

The folks as USACE then go on to point out the problems of old equipment, unsafe working conditions and the ever present hazard of insurgents/terrorists looking to kill or kidnap Iraqi electrical workers. They report that 16-25% of the cost of ANY project goes towards SECURITY. Not something you have do deal with much in Louisiana.

Now time for the supply to electrical generation capability problems, which they sum up as follows:
Crude oil: The oil Iraq should be selling is being burned
--This is because many of the units have been converted to oil turbines, making use of difficult fuels to save time in the beginning.

Natural gas: The gas Iraq should be burning is being flared
--This results in not enough pipeline (dry sweet) natural gas for generating megawatts to the grid. It is estimated that Iraq has enough natural gas to generate at least 4,000 MW of electric power.
Due to the circumstances of equipment, you know the decisions of the Saddam era, the USACE either had to help get electricity generated quickly OR spend forever and a day while Iraq was in the dark getting the production capability problem straightened out. They decided to do an incremental change-over and refit to get as much electricity made as fast as possible and then convert from crude oil to natural gas over time. Which is one reason why Iraqis have problems getting gasoline - they have electricity. They then go into the grim details of *that* decision and what a bitch it is to maintain and why they want to get to an environmentally low impact natural gas burning situation that is also more efficient and cheaper to run and maintain. This is the equivalent of trying to turn your gasoline piston engine vehicle to a diesel Wankel design while the car is still in operation and *not* having either stall out because you are in the passing lane. Oh, and do it cheaply and efficiently, don't spill any of either fuel and can we get better fuel economy while its going on?

Lots of in-depth on the O&M and training and getting a modern, remote operations system in place with satellite tracking and such, too. Since the Saddam era stuff dates from the USSR in the 1970s, which was close to US power equipment in the 1930s, this is a leap from that era to the 21st Century in production, management, control and operations. And we hear so much about TIMETABLES let us take a look at one, but not one for troop withdrawal, but for the entire electrical energy system of Iraq, which is something that one can actually do plans for:

Turnaround year is 2008 or so, with a bit of luck and determination. After that they break down into the expected power loads both average and peak, generation facilities to be brought up to snuff or new generation planned, all the little details that go into a timetable.

So that is where electrical generation stands today in Iraq.

Next up, water and sewage.

Mundane, isn't it? The greatest leap of mankind's life expectancy was *not* through any medication, *not* through safe surgery... but it came from clean water and sewage systems. With those the basis of a modern city can be made... and without them you are never going to get a population density that allows for civilization to happen. The folks at USACE deliver a page on this, and really need to do a bit more. Out of the thousands of projects they are doing, the bulk of them are in water and sewage work, so they give a few high-profile thumbnails and leave it at that:
Progress is being made on Public Works projects throughout Iraq. Representative projects include:
* Nasiriyah Water Supply - This $172 M project involves construction of new treatment works and 70 km of pipeline to supply water that will relieve water shortages to one million people.

* Basrah Sewerage - This $53 M project involves cleaning the existing sewer, completing partially built pump stations, adding missing pipelines between drainage areas, connecting three new drainage areas to the main sewer, and replacing inlet works at the main treatment facility.
* Baghdad Wathba and Whada Water Treatment Plant Rehabilitations - This project is refurbishment of two existing treatment works valued at $14M for improving water quality and increasing output.

Water Resource projects are commencing construction. Representative projects include:
* Mosul Dam - This dam project is a top priority for the MWR due to the potential risk of dam failure. The dam has significant erosion and seepage problems in its foundation. The MWR relied on a substantial grouting program that lasted for years with no clear results of improved dam safety or reduced risk of dam failure. A top priority since July 2004 was to assess the grouting and emergency planning as well as to develop/recommend a permanent solution for the dam. A panel of experts of world-class stature was formed to do the study.
* Basrah Sweetwater Canal - The canal is 240km long, carrying raw water from Al-Gharraf River to Basrah. It has serious problems due to the high gypsum content in some of its sections. This is causing embankment failure which in turn reduces the amount of water delivered through the canal. There are other serious problems related to lack of power to operate the canal's two pump stations, availability of spare parts and the MWR ability to maintain and operate the canal.
* Nasiriyah Drainage Pumping Station - This is the biggest pumping station in the Middle East. It consists of 12 pumps; the capacity of each is 20m3/sec. It is located on the Main Outfall Drain (M.O.D) at the crossing of the M.O.D with the Euphrates River. Its main function is to pump the drainage water underneath the Euphrates. It is partly built. Companies from Austria, Brazil, and Russia had been involved in the construction. What make this complicated are the specifics and characteristics of the pumps. Current project works contains significant civil, earth, pipe/mechanical and electrical works. The irrigation projects in central and southern Iraq depend largely on successful completion of this project.

Mostly a stand-in for the hard work being done, but vital work, all of them. Also they give a listing of the management and oversight concerns for the overall water and sewage system and what needs to be done in the future. A lot of work ahead, but work is progressing and the agricultural sector has returned from the graveyard because of it. Again the Saddam era of rulership put this area in pure chaos and water was used as a weapon against the population of Iraq. Just ask the Marsh Arabs about that. Now at the weekly updates we get the current status of the overall effort: to date they have added 407,000 cu. m./day of water treatment capability out of the total of 1,038,000 cu. m./day necessary that they are adding; Basrah city sewage treatment complex is nearing completion. A report on one of the projects and some of the difficulties they face is contained in the update.

Now a fun bit: Iraqis pay income tax! Want to know what it is? Flat-rate 15% on earned income. You can get all the details at the English version of the Iraq tax website. Maybe, someday, flat tax will come to the US, too.... what was that about taxation and representation?

Also in the weekly update: Iraqi Company for Bank Guarantees is making $3.5M available for small and medium sized start-up companies, is getting trained by Jordanian bankers and has agreements with 12 Iraqi banks. Venture capital, anyone? Considering that the entire economy of Iraq is $33B, this is actually a pretty important investment. As we know in the US the major business employer is SMALL BUSINESS. Always has been and always WILL BE.

That is my update to the Central Bank review on the previous post on this.

From the weekly updates we get this on the Security & Justice side of things: 342 out of 399 police facilities completed for ALL of Iraq's police forces, and 248 out of 253 new border forts to help secure the 2000 miles of Iraq's borders.

Onwards to new items to add! The following are from the weekly update: 6 Primary Health Care facilities finished, 66 under construction, the rest have been awarded to meet the 142 PHC facilities necessary; 11 out of 20 hospitals have been renovated. For a good working health care system you need: clean water and good sewage works. Health care facilities trail that indicator, otherwise you end up with Soviet style clinics with NO running water and NO sewage capability. If you complain about the lack of hospitals and primary care facilities, then you need to look at water and sewage and NOT at what has been actually done. You do NOT get health care without the infrastructure. Elsewhere in the update we find that UNICEF has completed 97% of school age children vaccinations.

Oil production: 2.2 Million Barrels Per Day out of the current 2.5 MBPD capacity, with total goal capacity at 3.0 MBPD; Liquefied Petroleum Gas is at 1,200 tons/day out of the 3,000 tons/day maximum capacity. Here the limitations of the Saddam era equipment is showing up, and all reports point to ancient equipment that is out of spares needing replacement/refurbishment. Plus *new* equipment needs to come in and replace the stuff from the 1950's and earlier.

Education: 834 out of 837 schools completed for 325,000 out of 330,000 grade school students.

Roads: 217 km out of 424 km of village roads finished; still need 157 km of major road upgrades and 5 major bridge upgrades; 911 service is fully up and operational for 12 million Iraqis and that is the GOAL and FINISHED. A story on bridge work is in the update, also.

Now some other tidbits from LawkSalih.com, which has a nice accumulation of feeds on Iraq and other things. From the News section on Iraq, and it is updated as stories come in, being an accumulator and such.
04 SEP 2006 - Military airport to be turned civilian

Council of Wassit Province is studying turning al-Bashaer military airport into a civic one, deputy speaker of the provincial council Ahmed Hussein said.

Hussein added that the airport is 27 miles southern city center of Kut with an area of 30000 square acres and nearly four kilometer runway, which was built by a then Yugoslav company in the mid eighties of the last century. A source at the province said the study would be referred to the cabinet so as to be approved and fix its budget.

Posted by Lawk Salih

04 SEP 2006 - Iraqi National Security Adviser "Iraq is not on Brink of Civil War"
By Ma'ad Fayad

London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Iraqi National Security Adviser Dr Muwaffaq al-Rubaie has denied that Iraq is on the brink of a civil war, He admitted though that "the country is facing difficult security circumstances due to the acts of terror being carried out by the Al-Qaeda along with Saddam's followers who seek to foment sectarian sedition."

Al-Rubaie disclosed that "certain insurgent groups have contacted the Iraqi government and put forward some working papers for dialogue with the Iraqi authorities." He added: "There are nearly no dividing lines between the political and field objectives of Al-Qaeda, of which the Arab nationals constitute 20 percent, and Saddam's followers who target government officials, politicians, Iraqi army forces, as well as security forces."

In a telephone interview with Asharq al-Awsat from his office in Baghdad, Al-Rubaie said: "I do not agree with those who say that Iraq is on the verge of civil war. True, we are going though difficulties with regard to the security situation, and domestic unity has been beset by some cracks as a result of acts of terror by Al-Qaeda in the past few months, notably the bombing of he holy shrines in Samarra. These acts of terror are aimed at kindling sectarian sedition among the Iraqi people."


Al-Rubaie pointed out that "Al-Qaeda's attempts to stir up sectarian sedition have failed, but it has only succeeded in causing cracks in domestic unity and in provoking sectarian disputes in certain areas in Iraq and in Baghdad." He said: ' I answer those who say that there is civil war in Iraq, that killing on the basis of sectarian or denominational identity takes place in some, not all areas of Baghdad. Seventeen Iraqi governorates are free of such acts." He said that "the acts of terror peaked in the middle of July, but since then the execution of victims, (that is tying their hands and killing them by firing bullets), decreased to about 45 percent."
As commentary: I would appreciate it if he would *also* mention the Sadrists in this. But the point is the same, 17 governates are relatively peaceful and it is mostly Baghdad and environs, with a bit of the Iranian border region in really active play. Thus this next item is a 'head scratcher':
04 SEP 2006 - Iraq, Iran set up free-trade zone

Source: Azzaman The southern Province of Basra now has a free-trade zone with neighboring Iran, signaling yet another boost in commercial ties.

The zone was officially opened on Sunday and was hailed as a milestone in the province’s relations with Iran.

The provincial council in Basra has separate trade agreements with Iran. Provincial delegations travel to Iran and sign deals. They only notify the Baghdad government about their moves.

Shops in Basra and other southern cities are crammed with Iranian goods.

Iran wants to use the zone, straddling the borders at the Shalmja border post, as a major warehouse to stockpile goods destined for Iraqi markets.

Exact trade figures are hard to obtain in Iraq, but Iran is believed to have become the country’s top trade partner.

Iran hopes the warehouses at the new zone, the first between the two countries, will reduce transport costs for Iraqi traders.

To assist the transport of its goods, Iran is constructing a highway linking the new zone to the provincial center, the city of Basra.

It is also repairing al-Tanoma Bridge on the Shatt al-Arab Waterway.

Trade exchange between the countries is now estimated at nearly $3 billion.

Iranian exports to Iraq include food stuffs, household utensils, clothes, agricultural implements and electrical appliances.

Iraqi exports to Iran include dates and hides.

Posted by Lawk Salih

This one *needs* absolute and positive careful supervision by the Iraqi Army, NG and Police up and down the line. Basra should damn well *know* this is asking for trouble, especially since they already *have* trouble with Iran. New roads, repair the bridges and then you have a nice, new paved highway *into* Iraq. Perhaps a few few of those 'border forts' need to be around there... backed up by some infantry and mobile artillery. Police checkpoint or three would be good... bit of National Guard supervision in the town itself... you know... just to make sure it *is* food and utensils in the warehouses....

Thats about all the new info I can handle at one sitting, so will wrap it up.

No comments: