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Iraq's Energy Chiefs Work on Plan to Deal with Energy Shortages

Iraqi officials say they are formulating a plan to deal with the country's widespread energy shortages. Iraq is believed to have the third largest reserves of oil in the world, but years of fighting, sabotage, and looting have set back efforts to exploit its energy resources. Daniel Schearf reports from the northern Iraqi city of Irbil.

Iraq's electricity and oil ministers say they are working on a plan to improve electric power production for the energy-starved country.

Iraq's Minister of Oil Hussain Al-Shahristani says both ministries are trying to find the best way to work together to support power stations to make electricity. He says they know the Iraqi people need electric power and says they will work to resolve any problems they may face to reactivate power stations to supply the people.

Iraq's national electric grid is not being maintained well and frequently breaks down causing widespread blackouts. City dwellers, including those in Baghdad, only receive a few hours of electricity a day at best.

Attacks on pipelines and power stations have crippled attempts to dramatically improve oil and energy production and transportation.

A truck bomb Sunday took out a key generating plant in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. It was followed Monday by a sabotage blast that destroyed a section of a major natural gas pipeline in northern Iraq leaving parts of the country without electricity for at least a week.

Minister of Electricity Karim Waheed says the government will repair storage facilities to receive fuel. He says the joint master plan with the Ministry of Oil must be finished in one week. He says the strategic plan calls for them to work together to get stations to supply maximum power. Waheed says the plan will cover many past contracts already signed and that future projects would be signed for five year terms.

Waheed did not say whether international contracts signed by the Kurdish Regional Government in the north would be included in the master plan.

The central government in Baghdad and the Kurdish government in Irbil have been struggling for control of oil wealth in the north.

The largely autonomous Kurdish government has been signing deals with foreign oil firms, leading Baghdad to black-list future deals with those countries.

On Thursday the Prime Minister of Iraqi Kurdistan signed a multi-billion dollar deal with South Korea to develop four oil fields in the north.