By John Lee.

Malaysia’s Petronas has reportedly decided to withdraw from its 30-percent participating interest in Iraq’s giant Majnoon oil field.

According to Bloomberg, the decision came as the company considers the returns to be too low. It is expected to hire advisers to help find an interested party to take up the holding.

Shell is also said to be trying to sell its 45-percent stake in the field, following a failure to reach agreement with Iraq’s Ministry of Oil. Both Chevron and Total have expressed interest in the project.

Petronas is currently involved in Iraq’s Badra, Garraf, Halfaya, and Majnoon.

(Source: Bloomberg)

By John Lee.

Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar Ali al-Luaibi [Allibi, Luiebi] (pictured) has reportedly said that Chevron and Total have expressed interest in developing the Majnoon oilfield.

Oil giant Shell is trying to sell its stake in the field following a failure to reach agreement with Iraq’s Ministry of Oil.

Reuters quotes the Minister as saying that negotiations are continuing with Shell, that he hopes to reach a satisfactory deal for both parties, and that he has not started negotiations with other companies to take over Shell’s stake.

(Source: Reuters)

Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar Ali al-Luaibi [Allibi, Luiebi] (pictured) has said an agreement will soon be signed with Iran to jointly invest in two oil fields shared between the two countries.

Last month, Iraq’s Ambassador to Tehran, Rajih al-Mussawi, said his country was considering a plan to cooperate with Iran to develop the Azadegan oil field which the two sides share.

According ot PressTV, Iran discovered the Azadegan field in 1999 in what was the country’s biggest oil find in decades.  It is believed to be connected with Iraq’s supergiant Majnoon oil field.

Japan’s Inpex was contracted to develop the Azadegan project, but later quit in an apparent reaction to US sanctions against Iran.

Shell is reportedly trying to quit the Majnoon project, but has also submitted its technical study plan to Iranian authorities to develop the Azadegan and Yadavaran oil fields.

(Source: PressTV)

By John Lee.

Oil giant Shell is trying to sell its stake in the Majnoon oilfield (pictured) in southern Iraq, following a failure to reach agreement with Iraq’s Ministry of Oil.

A Shell spokesman told UAE-based newspaper The National:

“Following extensive discussions with the Ministry of Oil, the oil minister of Iraq formally endorsed a recent Shell proposal to pursue an amicable and mutually acceptable release of the Shell interest in Majnoon, with the timeline to be agreed in due course.”

Reuters quotes an oil official as confirming that the Ministry failed to reach an agreement with Shell over its Majnoon operations, including production plans and investments budgets. “We think it’s for the interest of all parties that Shell should withdraw,” he added.

A Shell spokesman told Reuters:

“In May 2017, the ministry of oil in Iraq applied the performance penalty and remuneration factor on the Shell operated venture, the Majnoon oil field, which had a significant impact on its commerciality.”

The company holds a 45-percent share in the project, with Malaysia’s Petronas holding 30 percent, and the Iraqi state-owned Maysan Oil Company having 25 percent.

Output from the field, which commenced production in 2014, is currently estimated at around 235,000 barrels per day (bpd), with a 400,000 bpd target by 2020.

Shell is also seeking to selling its stake in the ExxonMobil-operated West Qurna 1 oil field.

In addition to its oil interests in Iraq, Shell is a key player in the Basra Gas Company (BGC), a joint venture between the Iraq’s South Gas Company (SGC) (51%), Shell (44%) and Japan’s Mitsubishi (5%), which processes gas from the Rumaila, West Qurna and Zubair fields, which would otherwise be flared.

The National also quotes a Shell spokesman as saying that the company remains committed to this, and to its petrochemical project in Iraq:

“By leaving Majnoon, Shell will be in a stronger position to focus its efforts on the development and growth of the Basrah Gas Company and the Nebras Petrochemicals Project.

(Sources: Reuters, The National)

By Ashley Goodall.

Is the UK overlooking a key USP for British International businesses?

Education and training footprint of British companies around the world has a significant and excellent impact on communities and economies and is often taken for granted.

As the UK ramps up its trade rhetoric and a ‘Global Britain’ emerges, one of the key benefits that British companies bring is being overlooked: Education and training…

The penny dropped for me as I attended a meeting of the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) members to find that one after the other, each company was committed to the concept of a learning organisation that are locally integrated. Not only are British companies employing as many local people as possible, but also training them to deliver increasingly complex managerial and technical roles.

Oil and gas companies, Shell and BP in particular, deliver an extraordinary amount of training in Iraq alone. The effect on the local communities and national economies is a massive injection of know-how and a source of social stability, development, prosperity and economic progress, let alone the transformative power training confers on individuals, families and communities.

Not only are our companies a source of prosperity, but when partnered with UK Universities offer a double whammy for the delivery of global standards and expertise that  few countries can match in country and via external courses, such as delivered by Oxford Brooks and Northampton Universities.

Emerging economies appreciate this expertise, as it raises business operations to global standards and enables them to compete with the best, to encourage inward investment and generate employment opportunities in their regions.

Oil and Power companies in particular make a big social impact on their suppliers. Osama Kadhum Managing Director of Ratba’ contracting in Iraq says his staff received 3885 hours of training in Majnoon Oilfield from Shell alone, ensuring the highest technical and supervisory standards are applied.

GE power likewise employ over 90% of local staff, often sent for technical training in USA or x for 6-12 month stretches supporting local recruitment , diversity of employees, and women for increasingly leadership and supervisory roles. Shell in Iraq train over 7,900 local staff in Basra for whom they are delivering over 200,000 training days per year. BP and its Partners are developing the Rumaila field which is supported by a 93% Iraqi workforce.

Around 2,400,000 training hours have been delivered to staff in a variety of technical disciplines, core skills, leadership and safety.  And these figures do not include community initiatives such as an extensive community vocational training programme that has been running for 3 years, or 400 women from a remote community that have been trained in the Rumaila funded Qarmat Ali Women’s Training Centre.

In Baghdad Serco have set up an ATC Academy for Air traffic Controllers. Multiply this scale of training globally in just Iraq and you begin to see the scale and quality of training that British companies deliver among International, Emerging and Frontier markets.

More widely Rolls- Royce has committed an ambitious plan to reach 6 million people worldwide through their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) education programmes between 2014- 2020. This bold target will encourage a more creative and engaging outreach through the company’s supply chain, through the wider STEM sector and to inspire society to attract talented young people from around the world to the world of STEM.

Businesses are often castigated by the media, but the reality is that they are usually a force for good, prosperity and ultimately stronger communities. So let’s celebrate the important impact British companies’ commitment to education and training brings to millions of people and their ability to change the world.

Ashley Goodall is a martketing consultant to Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC).

Ratba’a Contracting Company has just joined the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC).

Ratba’a is an Iraqi Company based in Basra and Baghdad and is owned by Haj Aboud Al Khlaidy & Sons Group.

The group works to deliver projects in key sectors such as oil and gas (currently Shell, Petronas and BP are major clients), infrastructure and distinctively, the agricultural technology market for greenhouses.

Ossama A. Kadum, Managing Director, explained on a visit to the IBBC Cumberland Lodge weekend retreat that:

“Ratba’a are on the look out to collaborate with British companies with strong design and planning expertise and IOC’s for whom Ratba’a can deliver high quality engineering contracts and build projects.”

Mr Kadhum’s staff has a high commitment to training, quality assurance and engineering expertise that has enabled the company to prosper and grow through a difficult macro environment.

Christophe Michels, MD of IBBC said:

“Ratba’s strength in Iraq is their scrupulous adherence to high standards of delivery, which distinguishes them from many local contractors. High standards are something IBBC expects and admires among and for our members. We are very pleased to welcome Ratba’a on board and the value they will add to our members.”

(Source: IBBC)

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) held its annual weekend retreat on 7-9 July at Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Park, a venue dedicated to the advancement of international societal issues through constructive dialogue.

Around 60 IBBC Members and guest speakers attended this unique event to discuss pressing issues on the future of Iraq’s economy, prospects and stability.

Friday afternoon featured an Oil & Gas Sector Table Meeting, with representatives from Shell, Constellis, Penspen and Amec Foster Wheeler amongst others. William Wakileh, President and CEO of GE Iraq and Levant, gave a detailed presentation of GE’s work in Iraq during the meeting.

This was followed by a meeting of the Education, Training & Heritage Sector Table. The meeting featured presentations by the Vice Chancellors of the universities of Brighton, Leicester, and the Dean of Academic Partnerships of Northampton University, showcasing the progressive initiatives of British universities to support educational and curricula development in Iraq. Shell gave a presentation on their current training and educational work and requirements in the country. The meeting was also attended by the newly appointed HR director of BP Iraq.

The evening events saw speeches from Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, Her Majesty’s Trade Envoy to Iraq, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, Canon Dr Edmund Newell, Principal, Cumberland Lodge and H.E. Dr Salih Husain Ali, Ambassador of the Republic of Iraq.

The day was concluded by a powerful speech, courtesy of Dr Barham Salih, former Deputy PM of Iraq, former PM of the Kurdistan Regional Government and Founder of the American University in Suleimani.

The Friday Evening Dinner was generously sponsored by IBBC Member Severn Glocon Group.

The second day of the Conference on Saturday 8 July, consisted of 5 Sessions of panel discussions to address the economic, social and political situation in Iraq from a variety of different angles.

Session 1Present Situation in Iraq’ was chaired by Neil Quilliam, Senior Research Fellow at Chatham House and featured speeches from Baroness Nicholson, Dr Barham Salih, Ambassador Jonathan Wilks and Dara Rasheed, Deputy Minister of Construction, Housing and Municipalities for the Government of Iraq.

Session 2 addressed ‘Iraq after ISIS/The Future of Governance in Iraq‘ and was chaired by Botan Osman, Managing Director of Restrata. The Panel featured representatives of Chatham House, Dr Renad Mansour, Academy Fellow and Dr Nussaibah Younis, Associate Fellow, who recently published the Atlantic Council Report of the Task Force on the Future of Iraq. Nicolas Pelham, Middle East Correspondent at The Economist completed the panel.

Session 3 of the day, ‘A New Approach to International Trade’ saw a more finance focused discussion and was chaired by John Curtin, Partner, Ernst & Young. The panel was made up of Martin Kent, Strategy Director at the Department for International Trade, Gordon Welsh, Head of Business Group at UK Export Finance, Rob Lally of the Infrastructure Leadership Team and the Department of International Trade and Andy Birch, Director of DIT in Iraq.

Session 4 on ‘International Financial Support, PPP and Debt Finance’, was chaired by Richard Cotton of the IBBC and featured presentations by Ammar Shubar of Management Partners and Christian Josz, Mission Chief to Iraq of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Session 5 closed the day’s events on ‘Future IBBC Events’ chaired by Vikas Handa, IBBC’s UAE Representative.

IBBC also held its bi-annual Council Meeting at the Lodge, prior to dinner on Saturday evening.

The Seminar concluded with an after dinner speech and discussion with Jonathon Wilks, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Iraq (Designate).

(Source: IBBC)

Genel Energy has announced that Esa Ikaheimonen has been appointed as Chief Financial Officer. He will be based in London and will join the Company on 3 July 2017.

Esa has over 25 years of oil and gas industry experience, most recently as Group CFO of leading publicly listed offshore drilling companies Transocean and Seadrill. Prior to that, he had a c.20 year career at Royal Dutch Shell, culminating in the role of Vice President Finance for Shell Africa E&P.

Esa currently serves as a non-executive director and Chairman of the Audit Committee at Vantage Drilling International.

Murat Özgül, CEO of Genel, said:

“I am delighted to welcome Esa to Genel. His extensive industry, commercial, and financial experience will be invaluable to Genel and its growth ambitions, particularly the development of our significant gas assets in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. I look forward to working closely with him to unlock value for all our stakeholders.”

(Source: Genel Energy)

Enabling children to grow, develop skills and remain safe

“Every day on my way home from school, my friends and I spend our afternoon playing at the playground,” said Mahdi, 11, from Al Nashwa sub-district of Basra, South of Iraq.

In 2015, and under the UNDP-Shell Partnership, four playgrounds were constructed between Basra’s sub-districts of Al Nashwa and Al Dair to provide children with a safe space to play.

After consultations with the local communities and stakeholders, the lack of safe spaces for children surfaced amongst the priorities listed that required improvement. Children’s safety was an ongoing issue amongst the communities of Al Nashwa and Al Dair.

“Our children were in danger because they were playing near the roads, which worried all the parents,” said Sa’ad, a resident in Al Nashwa.

The four fenced playgrounds provide a range of facilities such as a football pitch, swings, fitness equipment, lighting and a seated shaded area attracting both children and youth.

Balanced and active play is essential for children to thrive because it helps them to learn, grow, and develop important skills related to creativity, social connection, and leadership. In order to encourage play, it is important for children to have access to safe places within walking distance of their homes.

“We don’t have to use rocks anymore for goal posts or play in the dark on the rubble,” said Mahdi. “Playing inside the fence feels much better because we don’t have to worry about the ball rolling to the street.”

To sustain the playgrounds and promote cleanliness, the Partnership Programme also equipped the playgrounds with trash bins along with water tanks for the plants. The availability of play areas is critical to knitting communities together and helping children to interact with others, which was prevalent on the playgrounds in both sub-districts.

Oil-producing countries yet to address their gas flaring may begin to feel there are no more excuses.

In a remarkable and bold decision, the government of Iraq recently endorsed the “Zero Routine Flaring by 2030” Initiative, (ZRF), which means the country has committed to not routinely flare associated gas in any new oil fields and will work to end routine flaring in existing oil fields as soon as possible and no later than 2030.

Launched in 2015 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, the ZRF Initiative is designed to end a 150-year-old oil industry practice that is responsible for emitting more than 300 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Gas flaring also wastes a valuable source of energy that could be put to productive use, particularly in countries where many people lack access to electricity.

Even in the most difficult circumstances we recognize that Iraq must ensure its resources are managed sustainably for future generations. Flaring is not only bad for the environment, it represents several billion dinars going up in smoke.
— Dr. Hamed Younis Saleh, Deputy Minister of Oil for Gas Affairs

The latest satellite data released by the US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration and the World Bank-led Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFR) shows that Iraq’s gas flaring has increased dramatically. Just four years ago the country was flaring about 12 bcm of gas annually. However, in 2015 the country flared close to 16 bcm, making it the second-largest gas flaring country in the world.