By John Lee.

Scottish-based engineering firm Wood Group plc has said that its operations in Iraq will see increased activity.

In its half-year results for the six months ended 30 June 2019, the company said:

“Growth in 2019 will be led by Operations Solutions, where we expect increased activity in Iraq with customers including Basra Gas, and in Papua New Guinea and Australia with Exxon.”

The company combined with Amec Foster Wheeler in 2017.

(Source: Wood Group)

Abu Dhabi National Energy Company PJSC (TAQA) has announced that its subsidiary, TAQA Atrush B.V. (TAQA Iraq), has set a new production record from the Atrush oil field in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

For the first time since the field commenced production operations in July 2017, the total monthly production volume exceeded 1 million barrels of oil in July 2019.

The 1 million barrel mark is a key milestone in TAQA Iraq’s ongoing production improvement and expansion plans for the Atrush block and is a testimony to the effort, professionalism, and commitment to deliver safe and efficient operations in Iraq.

The current rate of gross production at the Atrush block is approximately 34,000 barrels of oil per day, which is line with the company’s targets for Q2 2019. The increase in production was largely due to new wells coming on stream and the impact of de-bottlenecking work over the past few months, which has increased the capacity of volumes handled by the production facility.

The facility has continued to meet targets at minimal spend and is a result of a focus on integrated planning and optimization.

Speaking on the milestone, TAQA Chief Executive Officer Saeed Al Dhaheri said:

This significant achievement is a direct result of our Iraq team’s technical expertise and strategic planning efforts. As a global energy player with operations spanning four continents, our operations in Iraq have allowed us to strengthen our expertise as a leading developer of greenfield projects.

“We look forward to building on this achievement to continue to deliver energy to our strategic partners in the Kurdistan region, and to continue to forge strong relationships with local communities around the Atrush block.”

AbdulKhaliq Al Ameri, Managing Director of TAQA Iraq, added:

“Our focus for the past two years has been to improve the value of our asset while ensuring cost-optimization and uphold our commitment to health and safety. I am particularly proud of our team, which comprises more than 300 people, many of whom are from the Kurdistan region. This achievement is a result of their hard work and dedication to TAQA’s vision.”

The Atrush field is located 85 km northwest of Erbil and is one of the largest new oil developments in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The field was first discovered in 2011 and production started in 2017. In its two years of production, the Atrush field has produced of 17 million barrels of oil, with increasing efficiency.

In May 2019, TAQA Iraq completed the acquisition of an additional 7.5% working interest in the Atrush block from Marathon Oil KDV B.V. With this acquisition, TAQA Iraq’s working interest in the Atrush block increased from 39.9% to 47.4% and represents an AED 116 million addition to the company’s assets.

TAQA Iraq is the operator of the Atrush block and has a 47.4% working interest under the Atrush block Production Sharing Contract. TAQA Iraq’s partners in the project are the Kurdistan Regional Government (25%) and General Explorations Partners, Inc. (27.6%).

(Source: TAQA)

By Mustafa Saadoun for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Former Iraqi premier opens up about PMU, new PM, Iran

Al-Monitor’s correspondent in Iraq interviewed former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi at his family residence within the Green Zone in the capital Baghdad.

There, he holds meetings of the Victory Alliance and hosts guests. Abadi discussed many topics including his relationship with the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), the government of his successor Adil Abdul Mahdi, the possibility of Iraq mediating between Washington and Tehran and Israel’s targeting of the PMU.

Abadi warned against damaging carefully balanced ties between the Iraqi federal government and Iraq’s Kurdistan region because of power conflicts.

He also commented on the PMU accusing him of serving the intersts of the United States.

Click here to read the full story.

By Mustafa Saadoun for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Former Iraqi premier opens up about PMU, new PM, Iran

Al-Monitor’s correspondent in Iraq interviewed former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi at his family residence within the Green Zone in the capital Baghdad.

There, he holds meetings of the Victory Alliance and hosts guests. Abadi discussed many topics including his relationship with the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), the government of his successor Adil Abdul Mahdi, the possibility of Iraq mediating between Washington and Tehran and Israel’s targeting of the PMU.

Abadi warned against damaging carefully balanced ties between the Iraqi federal government and Iraq’s Kurdistan region because of power conflicts.

He also commented on the PMU accusing him of serving the intersts of the United States.

Click here to read the full story.

By John Lee.

The National Investment Commission (NIC) has announced the following investment opportunities:

  1. Chlorine production plant – State Company for Mining

(Source: National Investment Commission)

(Picture: Business opportunity word cloud, from ibreakstock/Shutterstock)

The interior ministers of Iran and Iraq signed an agreement to implement plans to facilitate the Arbaeen pilgrimage to Iraq, including one on reopening the Khosravi border crossing.

Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli and his Iraqi counterpart Yassin Al Yasiri met in Tehran on Saturday and signed a memorandum of understanding to facilitate the Arbaeen pilgrimage to Iraq by Iranian travelers.

Based on the MoU, the two sides agreed to reopen the Khosravi border crossing and remove visa restrictions for pilgrims planning to visit Iraq for the Arbaeen ritual ceremony.

Iran and Iraq also agreed to raise the level of services and facilities for the pilgrims and enhance border security during the Arbaeen season, which will culminate in a large gathering in Karbala on October 19.

Arbaeen, one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, comes 40 days after Ashura, the martyrdom anniversary of the third Shiite Imam.

Each year, a huge crowd of Shiites flock to the Iraqi city of Karbala, where the holy shrine of Imam Hussein (AS) is located, to perform mourning rites.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

By Ahmed Mousa Jiyad.

Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The Ministry of Oil and the “Odious Contract’ Trap” with ExxonMobil’ Consortium

Talks have intensified recently about the continuation of negotiations between the Ministry of Oil (MoO) and ExxonMobil/CNPC consortium that might lead to the signing of a contract for the “South Iraq Integrated Project (SIIP)” at an estimated cost of $53 billion and a duration of 30 years, but no official confirmation or indications on the fundamental contractual provisions that were agreed on and those still pending.

In the light of the available information, material evidence, actual examples, international geopolitical considerations and comparative analysis, a detailed evidence-based research and Report* was done on the project and related negotiation.

The report on SIIP’ possible contract comprises:

  • A necessary introduction and caveat;
  • Political and geopolitical implications of ExxonMobil behavior and its apparent link to the “deep state” based on many evidences that actually and factually had negative consequences on oil projects, for example, in Russia and in Iraq.

In Russia, ExxonMobil caused a delay of almost four years in the development of the Pobeda oil discovery in the Kara Sea when ExxonMobil withdrew, in late 2014, from its deal with Rosneft due to imposing US sanctions on Russia.

Iraq had three bad experiences with this company in recent years. The first, when ExxonMobil negotiated secretly and concluded, against declared government policy, deals with KRG in 2011 soon after the company secured West Qurna 1 contract through first bid round with the federal ministry.

That move led to excluding ExxonMobil from leading Common Seawater Supply Project (CSSP), reduce its Participating Interest in WQ1 and blacklisting it from any upstream project.

The second and third bad experience occurred this year when the company evacuated, unilaterally and without government consent, all its foreign staff from WQ1. All these three incidents caused tremendous damage to Iraqi economic interest.

  • Potential strategic risks, of an enormous scale, on SIIP that could be generate from the growing deterioration of the American-China relations as evidenced from the blacklisting of two major state oil companies, i.e. Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp and Sinopec. US escalating tension against Iran adds further geopolitical risks;
  • Analyses of what would be SIIP contract was premised on what was reported by national and international sources that are originally based on information given by unnamed Iraqi officials. That was due to the absence of clarity and lack of transparency of the ministry regarding essential contractual terms and conditions.

Based on the analyses and findings of the report, I am compelled to clearly alert and strongly, frankly and loudly warn both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Oil of the danger of pushing Iraq into a “trap of an odious contract” and by specifying ten of its most grave risks and disadvantages:

  1. ExxonMobil, as the consortium leader, is granted a monopoly position that allows the company directly controlling all vital oil projects in southern Iraq, and thus the entire national economy, for thirty years;
  2. It poses a multiplicity of major threats to national security and economic interest due to what can be called contractually-connected high strategic and geopolitical risks, since SIIP comprises many critical and vital projects such as Common Seawater Supply project-CSSP (for water injection), pipelines, storage tank-farms, export facilities, gas processing units and two oilfields;
  3. It contravenes the fundamental premises of the Iraqi Constitution because the contract requires “mortgaging/ reserving/ booking” two oilfields, with a combined plateau production of 500kbd, exclusively for the two foreign oil companies, i.e. ExxonMobil and CNPC, for the entire term of the contract- 30 years;
  4. It offers “Profit-Sharing Contract”, which, in reality, represents the monetary side of a “Production Sharing Contracts”, which, is impermissible by the Constitution;
  5. The announced astronomical cost (of $30bilion) increased already by $11billion in less than ten weeks while negotiating!;
  6. It offers all rent (windfall) resulting from oil price increases exclusively to the two foreign companies, nothing for Iraq!;
  7. It prevents SOMO (the only State Oil Marketing Company) from performing its role in marketing crude oil from the “mortgaged” two oilfields; this contravenes established policy, undermines annual state budget laws and weakens almost 50 years of SOMO’s function;
  8. It reduces the “national efforts” in the development of oilfields, thus, contradicting declared Ministry policy, weakens Iraq’s flexibility to comply with OPEC decisions through “swing fields”;
  9. Inconsistent with the regulations for tendering and contracting government projects;
  10. It lacks both transparency and competitiveness.

Therefore, I suggested to the Ministry of Oil not to continue on wasting time and causing further delays: it should officially declare that it is not in Iraq’s economic interest and national security to award SIIP to ExxonMobil-CNPC (and for this matter to any one consortium) and end, immediately, all and any related negotiations.

In the event that the Ministry of Oil and/or the Government insist on going ahead with this Odious Contract with ExxonMobil-CNPC, it becomes inevitable to refer the matter to the Federal Supreme Court to invalidate the contract on the bases of incompatibility with the Constitution; for eradicating the highest interest of the Iraqi people, including future generations (principle of inter-generational equity)  and for returning Iraq to what looks like abhorrent concessions of the, colonial, past.

*A brief of the original Arabic text of the entire report was circulated widely within many networks and was published by and posted on many websites, and accessible on the following links:

الحذر يا وزارة النفط من “فخ العقد البغيض” مع شركة اكسون موبل

https://www.akhbaar.org/home/2019/8/261291.html

http://www.tellskuf.com/index.php/mq/83987-as174.html

http://www.sahat-altahreer.com/?p=49115

Click here to download the full article in pdf format.

Mr Jiyad is an independent development consultant, scholar and Associate with the former Centre for Global Energy Studies (CGES), London. He was formerly a senior economist with the Iraq National Oil Company and Iraq’s Ministry of Oil, Chief Expert for the Council of Ministers, Director at the Ministry of Trade, and International Specialist with UN organizations in Uganda, Sudan and Jordan. He is now based in Norway (Email: mou-jiya(at)online.no, Skype ID: Ahmed Mousa Jiyad). Read more of Mr Jiyad’s biography here.