By John Lee.

Iran’s outgoing president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is set to make a two-day visit this week to Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s spokesman said on Sunday.

He is expected to arrive in Baghdad on Thursday to meet with the Prime Minister.

According to a report from NCR-Iran, Ahmadinejad’s visit to Iraq in 2008 prompted widespread protests.

(Source: NCR-Iran)

By John Lee.

Associated Press reports that the Italian oil company Eni has agreed to lower production targets at the Zubair oil field. It has also extending the length of the contract by five years.

Eni says that the deal signed on Monday in Baghdad sets a new target at the field of 850,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) through 2035. The original 20-year deal signed in 2010 called for 1.2 million bpd.

Eni is the lead partner on the 4.1 billion barrel field with a 32.81 percent stake; Iraq’s Missan Oil Company holds 25 percent, Occidental Petroleum Corp 23.44 percent, and South Korea’s KOGAS 18.75 percent.

(Source: Associated Press)

By John Lee.

American-based private equity firm Carlyle Group is reported to be looking for opportunities in Northern Iraq.

A report from Dow Jones says the move comes as a result of a new $750m fund that the company hopes to raise to invest in the Middle East and North Africa.

The firm, which is expected to begin informal talks with investors after Ramadan, has been one of the few buyout firms to remain active in the region in recent years.

(Source: Dow Jones)

By John Lee.

Iraq has again failed to restart exports of crude oil via the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline, reports UpstreamOnline.

Pumping was suspended since 21st June due to a leak in the Ain al-Jash area, around 290 kilometres northwest of Baghdad. There was a brief restoration of service last week, but flows are again reported to have stopped.

A source in Iraq told Reuters that normal pumping has not yet been resumed, in order to ensure that the repaired part of the line can handle the pressure, adding that intermittent pumping of crude was only for testing purposes.

The wire service said data from a shipping source showed that eight tankers were at anchor outside Ceyhan awaiting supplies, with one having been there since 19 June.

Loadings are not possible as crude stocks are down to zero, with delays now pegged at around 18 days, the source said, adding eight pipeline shipments for Turkey’s sole refiner Tupras have also been delayed.

Iraq normally exports an average of 350,000 to 400,000 barrels a day but sabotage to the pipeline over the last few months, as well as technical problems, have curtailed flows.

Last month, Iraq only exported 193,000 barrels a day via the pipeline because of damage to the structure by unknown attackers.

(Source: Upstreamonline)

By Ali Abel Sadah for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

On July 9, 2013, a source close to Iraqi Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi (pictured) revealed that the political parties draft law will not be enacted during the current legislative session, due to sharp differences between the leaders of political blocs.

“Long discussions were held last week between the leaders of political blocs in parliament regarding the law. However, no consensus has been reached to pass it during this session,” the source said in a statement to Al-Monitor.

The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, added, “This law was supposed to be voted on during the session, but due to mistrust between political blocs, political leaders failed to reach an agreement in this regard.”

Speaking to Al-Monitor, Ahmed Abdullah, the deputy chairman of Iraq’s Integrity Committee, said, “Major political parties, especially those in the government, do not wish to enact this law because it reveals their financial resources.”

“The political parties law provides for strict conditions on financial returns and sources of donations. Therefore, the parties that are receiving suspicious funds will not allow its legislation,” he added.

According to the draft law developed by lawmakers, funding resources for political parties include: subscription fees of its members; internal endowments and donations; returns of [the party’s] newspaper, publications and other activities; and financial support from the general budget of the state as per the Annual Budget law.

By John Lee.

India is interested in building refineries and petrochemical plants in Iraq, according to a report from the Economic Times.

Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily (pictured), who led a 28-member delegation to participate in the 17th India-Iraq Joint Commission meeting in Baghdad, expressed interest in setting up gas-based projects including fertiliser plants.

He also emphasised the need to deepen the relationship between the two countries by increasing economic cooperation, and offered to share knowledge and expertise in agriculture, infrastructure technology, and pharmaceuticals.

In the discussions with Deputy Prime Minister Dr Saleh al-Mutlaq, the delegation discussed cooperation and possibilities in the oil and gas sector, and also in other sectors such as steel and railways.

(Source: Economic Times)

Gulf Keystone has announced that further to the approval of the Field Development Plan for the Shaikan field, a world class commercial discovery, announced on 26 June 2013, the Company has commenced its development drilling programme with the spudding of Shaikan-10. In parallel, production operations from the newly commissioned Shaikan production facility (“PF-1″) are scheduled to commence shortly.

Shaikan-10 to launch aggressive development drilling campaign

Shaikan-10, the Company’s first development well, spudded on 5 July 2013, launching a development drilling campaign as part of the approved phased development of the Shaikan field, which Gulf Keystone operates. The well is being drilled with the Weatherford 842 rig, which previously drilled Shaikan-8, also part of the agreed phased development. This rig also drilled the Shaikan-1 discovery well in 2009 and the Bijell-1 discovery well in 2010.

Shaikan-10 will be followed by a minimum 3-rig development and production drilling programme, which will commence in early 2014.

Shaikan-10 is intended to become a production well and is to be tied to the second Shaikan production facility (“PF-2″), which is currently under construction. Analogous to PF-1, it is of modular design and its production capacity will be of 20,000 barrels of oil per day (“bopd”). Shaikan-2 and -5, already completed as production wells, will also be tied to PF-2.

PF-1, which has now been completed and commissioned, when combined with PF-2 later in the year, will allow the Company to achieve its immediate short-term production target of 40,000 bopd.

Commenting on today’s announcement, John Gerstenlauer (pictured), Chief Operating Officer, said:

It is a recognised fact that Gulf Keystone has done outstanding work during the exploration phase and we continue targeting significant exploration upside of the Shaikan field with Shaikan-7, which is currently being drilled.

“Our next immediate target is to complete the Company’s transition from an exploration to a key producer in the Kurdistan Region in 2013. The spudding of Shaikan-10 is yet another step in the right direction.

“The implementation of our Field Development Plan has started and we will shortly commence production from one of the world’s largest onshore conventional oil & gas developments. Focusing on our production milestones agreed with the Ministry of Natural Resources, we are working hard to get to 40,000 bopd of Shaikan production from PF-1 and PF-2, and then to progress to 150,000 bopd within 3 years and 250,000 bopd within 5 years.

(Source: GKP)

By Abdel Hamid Zebari for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

There is an old Arabic saying that “gold is both for decoration and storing.” Currently, Iraqis, particularly residents of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, are taking these words to heart. In the absence of a trustworthy banking system, they are converting their money into gold and stashing it in their homes. The Department of Standards and Quality Control for Gold and Minerals in the Kurdistan Region acknowledges that, indeed, large quantities of gold are being imported and distributed.

Bakr Aziz, the director of quality control for gold in the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Ministry of Planning, revealed to Al-Monitor, “During the past six months, 49.4 [metric] tons of gold have been imported into Iraq through the Erbil and Sulaimaniyah airports.” By comparison, according to Aziz, during the first seven months of 2012, some 34 tons of gold were imported.

He further explained, “Amounts of gold are brought in according to the needs of the Iraqi market. These quantities are brought in through the Erbil and Sulaimaniyah airports and distributed to all of Iraq.” These two airports have surplanted Baghdad’s airport as shipment points for gold due to the deteriorating security situation in central and southern Iraq and the lack of security in the airports there. By contrast, there is a “high level of organization in the Kurdistan Region’s airports.” Aziz reiterated, “[These airports] are secure, making it easier to bring gold into Iraq via the Kurdistan Region.”

The director also pointed out, “Currently, there is strong demand for Turkish and Gulf gold [from Dubai], especially 21-karat gold, while there is not much demand for local gold.” Some of Iraq’s imported gold originates in Europe, but this portion constitutes only a small amount of overall imports.

The newly arrived Italian Consul in Erbil, Dr Carmelo Ficarra, met with Minister Falah Mustafa to discuss ways of building upon his predecessor’s success.

Italy has a Consular Office in Erbil, which is due to be upgraded to a fully-fledged Consulate later this year.

In welcoming him to Kurdistan, Minister Mustafa encouraged him to use their presence in Erbil and the KRG Representation in Italy to promote political, economic and cultural ties. He added that the KRG places much importance on its ties with Italy as part of its efforts to enhance ties with the international community at large.

During the meeting, the two sides also touched on the political developments in Iraq, including the recent visit by President Masoud Barzani to Baghdad and his meetings with senior government and political representatives.

Dr Ficarra said that he was looking forward to beginning his tenure in Kurdistan and reaffirmed Italy’s support its political process and ongoing prosperity.

Minister Mustafa expressed his appreciation to Italy’s former diplomat in Erbil, Dr Simone De Santi, and assured Dr Ficarra of his strong support.

(Source: KRG)

The Dutch Minister for Migration and State Secretary of Security and Justice, Mr Fred Teeven, met with Minister Falah Mustafa as part of his visit to the Kurdistan Region to discuss bilateral ties.

The visit is part of an effort to further strengthen ties between Kurdistan and the Netherlands.

Minister Mustafa expressed his appreciation to the delegation on behalf of the KRG for their assistance to the Kurdish community during times of difficulty. He said, “We have a historical relationship with the Netherlands. But we are not living in the past today, we are focused on the future and to delivering prosperity to our people.”

The two sides also touched on ways of strengthening ties between Kurdistan and the Netherlands. Minister Mustafa said that the KRG wants to interact with the international community and welcomes the exchange of visits. He said, “These visits are important as they allow you to see the developments firsthand.”

The meeting included detailed discussions about the role the Netherlands can play in promoting the rule of law, advancing human rights, and encouraging transparency and accountability in Kurdistan. It later touched on the relationship between Erbil and Baghdad, as well as on regional developments.

Minister Mustafa also called for the establishment of an EU Office in Erbil, similar to the one in Baghdad to ensure the Kurdish position is conveyed to the European Union, saying that the time to do so is now. He added that this would help further strengthen political, economic and cultural ties.

Dutch Minister Teeven expressed his appreciation for the warm hospitality and said he was surprised by the notable difference between Kurdistan and the rest of Iraq. He assured Minister Mustafa that he would follow up discussions with his colleagues in Brussels to convey the request for an EU Office in Erbil. He added that it is important for Kurdistan to be covered in specific agreements between Iraq and EU to ensure that it can benefit.

He said, “We have had an enjoyable and productive visit to Kurdistan, and I will explore some of these areas with my colleagues in the Netherlands and in the EU Commission.”

Minister Teeven was accompanied by the Dutch Ambassador to Iraq, Mr. Harry Molenaar; Head of the Embassy Liaison Office in Erbil, Mr. Jeroen Kelderhuis, as well as several other senior officials from his ministry.

Several officials from the Department of Foreign Relations also attended the meeting, including the Deputy Head, Mr Karwan Jamal; Ms Siham Jabali, Assistant-Head of DFR, and other advisors and staff members.

(Source: KRG)