By John Lee.

Russia’s Stroytransgaz has signed a preliminary contract for the exploration, development and production of Block 17, in Anbar province.

At a signing ceremony in Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Affairs and Oil Minister Thamer Abbas Ghadhban said that preliminary studies and information indicate the existence of oil reserves ranging between 2 and 4 billion barrels oil equivalent of gas. The block measures 12,000 square kilometers.

The Director General of Petroleum Contracts and Licensing Department, Abdul Mahdi Al-Amidi, said that the contract commits the company to build a residential complex in Anbar province in addition to the development of infrastructure and services for the province, with an estimated value of $100 million dollars.

Stroytransgaz was sanctioned by the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in 2014 in relation to Russian activity in Ukraine.

The deal needs final approval by Iraq’s Council of Ministers.

(Sources: Iraqi Oil Ministry, OFAC)

By John Lee.

New Zealand’s Ambassador to Baghdad, Tredene Dobson, has informed the Iraqi Foreign Ministry of her country’s agreement to open an Iraqi Embassy in New Zealand.

The announcement followed a meeting between Ambassador Dobson and the Acting Head of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry’s Department of Asia and Australia, Mr. Hamid Abbas.

(Source: Iraqi Foreign Ministry)

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.

Iran grants additional visas to Iraqis to boost its economy

In light of the US sanctions and the exit of foreign companies from Iran, Tehran is seeking to boost its income and hard currency by hosting the largest possible number of Iraqi tourists it can.

Iran’s economic charge d’affaires in Najaf, Arif Abbasi, said June 22, “The number of Iranian visas issued from Najaf will increase to 5,000 visas daily.

Click here to read the full story.

A top commander voiced Iran’s readiness to provide neighboring Iraq with whatever means necessary for air defense.

In comments on Sunday, Commander of Khatam al-Anbia Anti-Aircraft Base of the Iranian Army, Brigadier General Alireza Sabahi Fard, said the Iranian Air Defense is fully prepared to satisfy Iraq’s air defense demands in all areas.

By relying on local experts, the Iranian Air Defense is ready to help Iraq in manufacturing and providing technical support for various air defense systems, the Iranian general said at a meeting with Major General Tariq Abbas Ibrahim Abdul Hussein, chairman of the Iran-Iraq joint commission, held in Tehran.

Sabahi Fard also noted that the Iranian technicians have manufactured a whole host of air defense systems, including tactical and stationary radars, artillery and missile weapons, signal and data collecting equipment, electronic warfare gear, and drones for missions and applications in diverse frequencies and ranges.

“We are ready to form expert committees in all spheres to pave the way for the launch and promotion of mutual cooperation,” the Iranian commander added.

For his part, the Iraqi general hailed Iran’s advances in the air defense industry, saying Iraqi military delegations have been acquainted with the Islamic Republic’s great capabilities after a series of visits to Iran.

The Iraqi commander also expressed his country’s willingness to work with Iranian air defense experts for manufacturing equipment, training, and technical support in various fields, such as electronic warfare, radars, visual monitoring, command and control, radar-related calculations, and software systems.

In April, Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri said Tehran and Baghdad have agreed to launch air defense cooperation to combat possible threats to Iran’s western border.

Later in May, Commander of Iraq’s Navy Major General Ahmed Jasim Maarij and Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy Rear Admiral Ali Reza Tangsiri met in Tehran to discuss promoting defense cooperation in the naval sphere, forming a joint commission of naval cooperation, enhancing coordination between the two navies, holding joint educational, scientific and research courses, sharing academic experiences, and staging joint naval exercises.

In July 2017, Iran and Iraq signed an agreement to boost military cooperation in a host of fields, including counterterrorism.

Based on the deal, Tehran and Baghdad try to promote interaction and share experiences in the fight against terrorism and extremism, work together to ensure border security, and provide each other with training and logistical, technical and military support.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

The President of Lukoil, Vagit Alekperov (pictured), has met with Thamir Abbas Ghadhban Al Ghadhban, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Oil of the Republic of Iraq, at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

The parties discussed the progress of West Qurna-2 project and agreed to consider the possibility of early commissioning of Eridu field (Block 10). The Minister of Oil of Iraq expressed the support of Lukoil’s initiatives aiming at development of Iraqi projects, fulfilling obligations under the Service Contracts.

The parties have also expressed their interest to consider gas ​processing and petrochemical projects in Iraq.

(Source: Lukoil)

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

Iraq to expand Karbala shrine for growing number of pilgrims

The Iraqi city of Karbala is planning a major expansion of a key religious site to cope with a growing number of pilgrims.

More than 30 million people visit the shrines of Imam Hussein and Abbas each year.

Al Jazeera‘s Dorsa Jabbari reports from Karbala:

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) held its annual Spring Conference at the Mansion House in London on 10 April, hosting officials from the UK and Iraqi Governments and delegates from the major companies operating in Iraq covering all sectors of the economy.

The conference was entitled ‘Iraq – Financing a Modern Economy’ and was organised in conjunction with the Central Bank of Iraq and the Iraq Private Banks League. H.E. Dr Fuad Hussein, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance lead a high level delegation of Government officials alongside Dr Mehdi Al Alak, Secretary General of the Council of Ministers, Mr Abbas Imran Mousa, DG Technical Department, Ministry of Transport, Dr Falah Al-Amiri, Councillor for Oil & Gas supplies to the Iraqi Minister of Oil,  officials from the Central Bank of Iraq, a delegation from the Union of Private Banks and the Governors of Erbil and Sulamania.

Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, President of IBBC and the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Iraq, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan & Kazakhstan opened the conference alongside Alderman Sir William Russell, H.E. Dr Fuad Hussein, The Rt. Hon. Alistair Burt MP, Graham Stuart MP, Minister for Investment, Department for International Trade and Jon Wilks CMG, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Iraq.

Dr Mehdi Al Alak presented a paper on ‘Private Sector Development and Investment in Iraq‘. Delegates received an exclusive insight into the Government’s planned measures and strategies to realise this ambition.

The event marked the 10th anniversary of the Iraq Britain Business Council and special awards were presented to Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne and Eng. Rasmi Al Jabri, Deputy Chairman of IBBC as a token of gratitude for their contribution to the organisation over the last decade.

Dr Renad Mansour of Chatham House, produced a paper on ‘The present situation in Iraq’ which was commissioned especially for the IBBC conference.

Conference Sessions & Speakers

The Banking Sector in Iraq

Chairman: Gavin Wishart, Consultant

Panellists: Dr Mazen Sabeh Ahmed, Central Bank of Iraq; Mohammed Delaimy, Standard Chartered Bank; UK Export Finance (UKEF); Ali Tariq Mostaf, Iraq Private Banking League; Richard Wilkins, JP Morgan

Stock Market & Investment Opportunities

Chairman: John Kemkers, Eversheds Sutherland

Panellists: Shwan Ibrahim Taha, Iraqi Stock Exchange; Dr Alaa Abdel Hussein Al Saadi, Iraqi Securities Commission; Abdulla al Qadi, Crescent Petroleum

Keynote Address: Dr Mehdi Al Alak, Secretary General of the Council of Ministers

Oil & Gas

Chairman: Prof. Frank Gunter, Lehigh University

Panellists: Dr Mark Wharton, Shell; Lawrence Coleman, BP; Bob Dastmalchi, Chevron

Capacity Building in Iraq

Chairman: Ambassador Stuart Jones, Bechtel

Panellists: Dr Renad Mansour, Chatham House; Prof. Mohammed Al-Uzri, University of Leicester; Samer Al Mafraji, AMS Iraq

The IBBC is especially grateful to the sponsors of the event: Shell, the International Islamic Bank, Standard Chartered, Rolls-Royce and Eversheds Sutherland.

Our Partners, Speakers & Contributors

(Source: IBBC)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will travel to Iraq on March 11 for an official visit.

Heading a high-ranking delegation, the Iranian president will be visiting the Arab country at the official invitation of Baghdad.

It will be Rouhani’s first official visit to Iraq during his tenure.

On Monday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi met with Prime Minister of Iraq Adil Abdul-Mahdi in Baghdad to make arrangements for Rouhani’s forthcoming trip.

The Iranian president’s visit would come against the backdrop of Tehran’s efforts to boost its foreign trade in the US sanctions era.

Iraq’s foreign minister said recently that his country is “not obliged” to abide by sanctions imposed by the US against Iran and would be pursuing options to continue bilateral trade.

President of Iraq Barham Salih paid a visit to Tehran in November 2018 with a ranking delegation for a series of political and economic talks.

Speaking at a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart at that time, Rouhani said the value of trade and economic interaction between Tehran and Baghdad stood at around $12 billion, adding that the two neighbors have the potential for a $20-billion trade target.

Earlier this month, governors of the central banks of Iran and Iraq signed an agreement to develop a payment mechanism aimed at facilitating banking ties between the two neighboring countries.

According to governor of the Central Bank of Iran Abdolnaser Hemmati, Iran is going to open euro and dinar-based accounts to process transactions for trade in oil and gas.

Describing Iraq as Iran’s major partner, Hemmati said the two countries have agreed to make the banking ties much stronger.

He also stated that Iraqi companies can reciprocally open accounts in Iranian banks and conduct transactions in dinar.

In December 2018, Chairman of Iran-Iraq Chamber of Commerce Yahya Ale-Eshaq said the central banks of Iran and Iraq were finalizing negotiations to begin trade in their own currencies.

Iraq’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim has made it clear that his country cannot cut off trade ties with Iran under the US sanctions.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

Special Parliamentarian talks about "merging ministries" to cut costs
2/12/2019

A member of the reform coalition, Abbas Sarut, said on Tuesday that there is a tendency to merge some ministries with each other, indicating that this will reduce the financial expenses.

"Iraq is going through a difficult economic situation, which has to reduce costs," Sarot told Trend News. "The issue of merging some ministries will reduce these costs."

"It is possible to merge the ministries of irrigation and agriculture, and the ministries of industry and trade, where one minister can run two ministries are similar in some tasks and responsibilities."

And raised parliamentary movements on the separation of the Ministry of the environment from health, and the surprise and questions by legal observers, after the integration and streamlining of ministries in the government of Haider Abadi, to reduce corruption and prevent slack in ministries.

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