* Foreign firms to install 50 diesel mini-power stations
* Minister promises 16 hours a day of power by 2012
By Aseel Kami
BAGHDAD, March 23 (Reuters) - Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity said on Wednesday it had reached an agreement with three foreign firms to install 50 diesel-fuelled emergency power generator stations across the country to help ease its acute power shortage.
Eight years since the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein, Iraqis still have power for only a few hours a day, one of the main sources of public discontent towards the authorities who have failed to tackle the problem despite windfall oil revenues.
Electricity Minister Raad Shallal said the plan to install mini-power stations around the country would help provide an interim solution while long-term power projects get underway.
Caterpiller of the United States, MAN Diesel of Germany and a Korean firm will share the $6.25 billion contract to install the mini-power stations, which will be signed next week, he added.
The 50 power stations would each have 25 diesel generators producing 4 megawatts each, adding a total of 5,000 megawatts in capacity.
Iraq needs more than 15,000 megawatts to meet peak summer demand. Its supply this summer is projected to be just 7,000 megawatts, enough to supply just eighthours of power a day, Shallal said.
The emergency generators will allow the country’s grid to supply 16 hours a day of power in the summer of 2012, Shallal said.
“Definitely, the summer of 2011 will be better than the summer of 2010. God willing, in 2012 the picture will change completely,” Shallal told a news conference. (Editing by Greg Mahlich)