UAE-based Gulf Precast has signed a contract to build 65 precast schools in various locations in Central Iraq.

The design of the schools and their boundary walls has already been finalised. While the initial part of the production is under way in the UAE, Gulf Precast is already in the process of setting up a production plant in Iraq. This is the first phase of the international expansion strategy of the UAE Precast Leader.

The Precast schools awarded to Gulf Precast are a part of an Iraqi national program to build 1,485 schools across Iraq this year. The schools have been specified using precast construction, and consist of 6, 9, 12, 18, and 24 class rooms. While several potential Precast Manufacturers had been considered, Gulf Precast, which has been operating in the Emirates for the last 28 years, has been selected both for its wealth of expertise and for its readiness to set up a Precast Plant in Iraq.

The Iraq factory will cater for the second production phase of the schools project as well as for the fast-track infrastructure and housing program launched by the Iraq government, delivering quality construction by the UAE expert which handled many iconic projects, such as the Dubai Mall, the Paris Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, high rise towers in the Jumeirah Beach Residence complex, more than 2,000 villas in the Al Falah Community Development, to name a few.

The new Iraq factory will complement the current 6 UAE plants managed by Gulf Precast as well as its 2 recent additions: its new Al Ain mobile Plant and Abu Dhabi Airport extension on-site Plant. Located in Baghdad, the Iraq factory is designed to produce 200 M3 of Precast per day in addition to 900 M2 of Hollowcore slabs daily.

Omar Araim, the representative of Gulf Precast in Iraq stated:

The Iraqi government has launched an ambitious program of construction development which can only be achieved if modern performing technologies such as Precast are employed. By being present in the country during the initial stages of this program, companies such as Gulf Precast are positioning themselves as a key actor of the expected national expansion.

Gulf Precast’s expansion strategy is not limited to Iraq only, but also includes numerous countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Libya, Oman, India and or Nigeria, countries in which Joint Ventures are in progress with governmental and private organisations.

Elias Seraphim (pictured), CEO of Gulf Precast declared that:

The expertise gained by Gulf Precast in the very mature and demanding construction sector of the United Arab Emirates is perceived as a critical success factor by many of our Joint Venture partners or intended partners.

“They, in turn, bring to the partnership their extensive knowledge of the local construction market. In a few years’ time, Gulf Precast intends to become an internationally renowned key player of the construction economy.

(Source: Gulf Precast)

Oryx Petroleum has announced an update on its activities in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Chief Executive Officer, Michael Ebsary (pictured), stated:

We continue to make great progress on all fronts in our Hawler license area. Progress continues towards first production from the Demir Dagh discovery with an early production facility now contracted and we are advancing the balance of our exploration program.

“Testing of our second exploration well at Zey Gawra will begin in the next few weeks, preliminary indications from the third exploration well at Ain Al Safra are encouraging and we will spud our fourth and possibly most significant exploration well at Banan in the next two weeks.

“The coming months in Kurdistan should be exciting as we continue to unlock the potential we see in the Hawler license area.

Hawler License Area

  • Demir Dagh Discovery: Contract Signed for Early Production Facility

Oryx Petroleum recently agreed to lease an Early Production Facility (EPF) from Expro, an international oilfield services company specializing in well flow management (www.exprogroup.com). The facility will have multiple trains with the ability to process light, heavy, sweet or sour crudes types. The lease period is expected to be two years with options to purchase at any point during the lease.

The EPF will have an initial capacity of 25,000 bbl/d and will be re-engineered to a capacity of 40,000 bbl/d. The facility is expected to be in place in Q1 2014 with first production planned for Q2 2014. The EPF may also be utilized for the appraisal of the other outlying prospective fields Banan and Zey Gawra.

Site preparation has commenced for the EPF which will be located 150 metres from the DD-2 well site and 500 metres from the Khurmala to Faysh Khabur pipeline that is expected to be completed by the end of 2013. A truck tanker loading station with initial capacity of 10,000 bbl/d will also be constructed 9.5 kilometres from the EPF near the main highway to facilitate domestic sales.

Asiacell has announced the selection of Mr. Amer Al Sunna as the new Chief Executive Officer.

The company, which is listed on the Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX) and recently completed the largest IPO in Middle East since 2008 successfully, has more than 10.5 million subscribers in entire Iraq and its network covers almost %97 of country’s populated areas along with prominent achievements under the leadership of its chairman and founder Faruk Rasool and ex- CEO, Dr. Diar Ahmed.

Amer Al Sunna will be a great asset to Asiacell and we are confident he will hit the ground running,” said Faruk Mustafa Rasool, Asiacell chairman. “We are positive that his vast experience, knowledge and understanding of the issues important to our business and telecom industry will help continue the success of our operation and ensure our success well into the future”.

Amer Sunna joined the Ooredoo family as Chief Executive Officer of wi-tribe Jordan in August of 2010; while in August 2011 he was appointed as Chief Operating Advisor of wi-tribe Philippines, as of February 2013 he is the Managing Director of Asiacell Iraq.

He brings with him 20 years of experience dedicated to the improvement of customer experience in telecommunications through a number of executive positions at various high profile organizations.

Sunna, who carries a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from Jordan University, was the CEO of three specialized telecommunication and internet services companies owned by VTEL Holdings in the Commonwealth of Independent States region (Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia) and the Group Chief Operations Officer (COO) at Orange and has played a vital role in shaping the telecommunications sector in Jordan.

“Asiacell will continue to play a key role for shaping the telecom market in Iraq,” said Sunna. “I am deeply thankful to our Chairman and Board of Directors for their trust and confidence. It brings me great honor to be appointed as the CEO of one of the leading and most reputable companies in the region. I am looking forward to working closely with Asiacell team; I will certainly do my utmost in leading Asiacell to achieving all our stakeholders’ expectations”.

Outgoing CEO Dr. Diar Ahmed who served in his position for almost 6 years will remains serving the company as Chief Advisor to the Chairman.

(Source: Asiacell)

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

A memoir published in 2012 by a representative of Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani sheds new light on the Battle of Najaf that unfolded in August 2004 in southern Iraq. Hamid al-Khafaf, Sistani’s Beirut representative, takes readers behind the scenes in a fascinating account of a crucial period in Iraq’s contemporary history in Al-Rihla al-‘Ilajiya li Samahat al-Sayyid al-Sistani wa Azmat al-Najaf ‘Aam 2004 (The Medical Journey of His Eminence Sayyid al-Sistani and the Crisis of Najaf in 2004).

Many parts of the book read like a fast-paced movie script, with intimate details of back-channel talks and frantic last-minute deals in an effort to avoid a catastrophe. US-backed Iraqi forces were itching to storm the holy shrine in Najaf to route the Mahdi Army forces fortified inside. Sistani, however, stood in the way.

The ayatollah did not want to see further violence in Najaf or have the shrine desecrated on his watch. Instead of a military solution, Sistani and his aides pushed for UN mediation, and when that failed, they personally intervened by negotiating a cease-fire with the Mahdi Army founder, Moqtada al-Sadr. In the end, thousands of Sistani followers poured into the shrine, providing cover for the militants, who walked out without their weapons, defeated but alive.

This was not the first time that Sistani had intervened to end a conflict in Najaf. In April 2004, another battle had raged between the Mahdi Army and US-Iraqi authorities. Khafaf reveals how Sistani’s office drafted a four-point cease-fire agreement in Sadr’s name and addressed it to the “Shia House,” an informal group of Shiite figures and political parties. Sistani’s son, Sayyid Mohammed Ridha, presented the letter to Sheikh Mohammed Mehdi Asifi, the representative of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Iraq.

It was well-known that Iran was providing Sadr with political, financial and military support. Sistani’s son gave the letter to Asifi so he, in turn, could hand it to Sadr to sign. In early August 2004, the terms of that cease-fire agreement were broken, leading to much fiercer fighting. Given that the holy shrine of Najaf was in danger, the stakes were much higher as well.

Minister Falah Mustafa, Head of the KRG’s Department of Foreign Relations, has signed an agreement with the US Consul General in Erbil, Mr Joseph Pennington, paving the way for the construction of the US Consulate General.

Minister Mustafa signed on behalf of the KRG and expressed his belief that this agreement would strengthen the already existing strong relationship.

He said:

We have a special and historical relationship with the United States of America as previously expressed by the leadership on both sides, and I am confident that this move will begin a new phase in our relationship.

The agreement follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding between both governments in July last year for the allocation of land. The US Consulate is currently in a large rented compound in Erbil. The new compound will be more permanent.

Mr Pennington said that this was an important milestone in US-Iraqi relations, and especially with the Kurdistan Regional Government and the people of the Region. He said that the new Consulate General compound would demonstrate America’s long-term commitment to promote and expand ties between the American people and the people of Kurdistan Region in Iraq.

Both officials also discussed the developments in Iraq as a whole, Syria and the region more generally.

The delegation accompanying Mr Pennington included Mr Marco Sims, Management Officer. The meeting was also attended by Assistant Head of DFR, Ms Siham Jabali and other officials from the DFR.

(Source: KRG)

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

Iraq’s ongoing conflicts are often linked to religious identities. Given the religious nature of these conflicts, the importance of icons, symbols and photographs are certain to emerge more prominently than at other times. Each of the conflicting parties tries to preserve its identity by creating a range of signs — particularly photographs — and by attacking the symbols of other parties.

In this climate, a photo of a religious leader or political figure will no longer be just a photo. Rather, it will reflect the identity of the entire sect or party. It is within this context that one can understand the sharp conflict between Iraqi members of parliament over raising photographs of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Khamenei in the streets of Baghdad.

Hermeneutically, these photographs represent the conflict between religious identities in Iraq. When a Shiite group raises such photographs to protest against the country’s mounting challenges, in the midst of sectarian conflict, Arab Sunnis see it as a declaration of the fall of Arabism in Iraq and the revocation of the project of an independent Iraq.

The verbal and physical altercation that took place in the Iraqi parliament in August 2013 over photographs of Iranian leaders displayed in Baghdad was not a simple political dispute between two blocs that have different political orientations. Instead, it reflects the standing conflict between religious identities in the country.

Iraqi groups try to exploit the public sphere to establish a presence and identity that distinguishes it from other parties. Therefore, neither side cares about common symbols that do not polarize. They focus instead on what provokes and makes others surrender before their symbolic authority.

In this context, one can understand why some Shiites have chosen the photographs of Khomeini and Khamenei instead of Iraqi Shiite cleric Ali al-Sistani, and why some Sunnis opted for photographs of former President Saddam Hussein and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan instead of moderate Sunni Iraqi figures.

The series of conflicts over icons and symbols between the conflicting identities in Iraq is not a recent development. The dispute has reared its head on several occasions, beginning with whether to consider April 9, 2003, a day of occupation or liberation in Iraq. The dispute then continued when selecting the new Iraqi flag. While some parties felt that their identity was being overlooked, others felt theirs was being undermined by the use of icons that differ from their own.

Gulf Keystone Petroleum (GKP) has announced that the English Commercial Court in London has set the date and time for its decision in relation to the claims asserted by Excalibur Ventures LLC against the company, its two subsidiaries, and Texas Keystone as 10.30 a.m. on 10 September 2013.

The Judge has indicated that he will read in open court his decision and a summary of his conclusions will be available at www.judiciary.gov.uk on the day. The full, written judgment will not be made public until a later date.

As the decision will be given in real time in open court and in order to maintain an orderly market in the Company’s shares, Gulf Keystone confirms that trading in its shares on AIM will be suspended from 7.30 a.m. on 10 September 2013 and this suspension will remain in place until such time as the Company releases an RNS giving details of the decision, which is expected to be later the same day.

(Source: GKP)

Petroceltic International, the independent oil and gas exploration development and production company focused on the Middle East North Africa, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea regions, today announces its results for the six month period ended 30 June 2013.

Highlights:

  • High impact drilling campaigns in Kurdistan and Romania recently commenced
  • $500 million debt refinancing
  • Agreement of commercial terms of second stage farmout in Algeria
  • Four new licences added to the portfolio in core geographic area
  • $26.9 million contingent Algerian farm-out payment received from Enel
  • Revenue of $104 million
  • First half working interest production of 24,500 boepd; currently producing 26,000 boepd
  • 2013 full year production expected to be 24,500-25,500 boepd

Brian O’Cathain (pictured), Chief Executive of Petroceltic, commented:

The first half of 2013 has been a period of solid operational delivery and significant financial and corporate progress.

In particular, the successful conclusion of our refinancing and negotiation of a second farm-out for the Ain Tsila asset in Algeria clearly demonstrates the strength of the Group’s funding position and the quality of our asset base.

“We are now entering a period of potentially transformational exploration activity with high impact drilling campaigns in Kurdistan and Romania”.

Regarding the company’s operations in Iraqi Kurdistan, the company made the following statement:

The Dinarta and Shakrok blocks are operated by Hess and the work programme commitment for the initial 3 year exploration period includes the drilling of one exploration well in each block.

“Petroceltic has a 16% participating interest in each licence. Operations during 2013 have principally focused on the completion and processing of 2D seismic and prospect ranking, well planning, site selection and preparatory civils work on both blocks.

“Two 2,000hp rigs have been contracted and the first well on the Shakrok-1 prospect, which has total P50 resource potential of 650mmbls across multiple horizons, spudded in late August. This well has a planned duration of approximately 5 months.

“Our second well is planned to test the Shireen prospect on the Dinarta Block, which has total P50 resource potential of 660mmbls across multiple horizons and is scheduled to spud in October 2013.

(Source: Petroceltic)

Advertising Feature

Rabee Securities Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX) market report (week ending: 5th September 2013).

Please click here to download a table of listed companies and their associated ticker codes.

The RSISX index ended the week at ID1,743 (+0.2%) / $1,873 (-0.1%) (weekly change). The number of week traded shares was 5.6bn and the weekly trading volume was ID7.9bn ($6.6mn).

ScreenHunter_06 Sep. 09 11.15

ISX Company Announcements

  • Investment Bank’s (BIBI) 2012 year-end (AUDITED) financial results:    B/S – FY12 (Assets: IQD380bn, +3% q/q (+16% y/y), Monetary Credit: IQD181bn, +4% q/q (+43% y/y), Deposits: IQD193bn, -9 q/q (+3% y/y), BV: IQD119bn, -11% q/q (+1% y/y),P&L (annual) – FY12 (Estimated NBI: IQD22.5bn, +16% y/y, Operating Profit: IQD13.7bn, 12% y/y, Net Profit: IQD1.4bn, -86% y/y).P&L (quarterly) – 4Q12 (Estimated NBI: IQD8.0bn, +40% q/q (+84% y/y), Operating Profit: IQD4.4bn, -8% q/q (+182% y/y), Net Loss: IQD6.0bn vs IQD4.0bn net profit in 3Q12 (and IQD0.1bn net loss in 4Q11).
  • Investment Bank of Iraq (BIBI) resumed trading on Sept. 3, 2013 after fulfilling ISC’s disclosure requirements for 2012.
  • Elaf Islamic Bank (BELF) will hold its AGM* on Sept. 21, 2013 to discuss 2012 financial statements and increasing its capital from IQD152bn to IQD200bn through bonus and rights issues. ISX will suspend trading of BELF starting on Sept. 15, 2013.
  • Iraqi Agricultural Products (AIRP) will hold its AGM* on Sept. 18, 2013 to discuss 2012 financial statements and pay 40% cash dividend.
  • Modern Construction Mat. (IMCM) will hold its AGM* on Sept. 17, 2013 to discuss 2012 financial statements and approve decreasing the capital by the un-subscribed amount of IQD249,844,409 so that the capital will be IQD5.37bn. ISX will suspend trading of IMCM starting from Sept. 10, 2013.
  • New shares of Dar Al-Salam for Insurance (NDSA) from the capital increase to IQD2.9bn through 19.83% bonus issue will resume trading on Sept. 8, 2013.
  • New shares of United Bank (BUND) from the capital increase to IQD300bn through 20% bonus issue resumed trading on Sept. 5, 2013.
  • Al-Ahlyia for Agricultural Prod. (AAHP) will hold its AGM* on September 11, 2013 to discuss year-end results (March 31), the cash dividend ratio and election new board. ISX suspended trading of AAHP starting on Sept. 4, 2013.
  • A cross transaction occurred on IQD1.6bn Iraqi Islamic Bank (BIIB) shares on September 3, 2013. This represents 1.1% of BIIB capital.
  • Modern Animal & Agricultural Production (AMAP) wasn’t suspended from trading on Sept. 3, because the company explained the reason behind the increase in price saying that the company has recently completed its 100% rights issue process.

The Private Sector Development Centre (PSDC) in Iraq in partnership with Chamber Trade Sweden and the support of The World Bank and SIDA carried out a 2-day workshop at the Swedish Embassy in Baghdad on the 2nd and 3rd of September 2013.

Presentations were made by Swedish experts on:

  • Labour Market Regulations – Good Practices.
  • Sweden as an Example for Economic Development.
  • Economic Data & Market Intelligence.
  • Women Economic Empowerment.

Participants included members of the Iraqi private sector and business associations, Iraqi public servants, representatives from leading Chambers of Commerce as well as notable international experts in their respective fields, amongst others.

A Working Group will be formed to review the current draft labour law in Iraq. With participation from Iraqi and Swedish subject matter experts, it will present its’ recommendations to the Iraqi parliament.

One pilot project, in collaboration with Iraqi Business Associations including the Babylon Chamber of Commerce, will be to initiate a web portal to provide market information targeting EU exporters interested in the Iraqi market.

Visits will be organised to take Trade Delegations between Iraq and Sweden in order to galvanise interest in Iraqi markets and help foster a growing dialogue between the respective business communities.

(Source: PSDC)