Re:Coded is launching its first boot camp in Baghdad.

If you want to learn how to design and code websites or web apps, don’t miss it!

The bootcamp duration is four and a half months and the application deadline is July 20th, 2019

You will get to learn how to use HTML, CSS and JavaScript to write professional pages.

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وأخيرا في #بغداد!

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Advertising Feature

Rabee Securities Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX) market report (week ending: 18th July 2019).

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

The RSISX index ended the week at IQD646 (-0.1%) / $695 (-0.1%) (weekly change) (-2.0% and -2.1% YTD change, respectively). The number of week traded shares was 2.2 bn and the weekly trading volume was IQD1.3 bn ($1.1 mn).

ISX Company Announcements

  • ISX will suspend trading of AL-Nukhba for General Construction (SNUC) starting Jul. 30, 2019 due to the AGM that will be held on Aug. 4, 2019 to discuss and approve 2018 annual financial results.
  • Original shares of Iraqi for Seed Production (AISP) resumed trading on Jul. 18, 2019 after discussing and approving 2018 annual financial results, increasing the capital from IQD10.50 bn to IQD13.65 bn through 30% bonus issue and deciding to distribute 20% cash dividend (IQD0.20 dividend per share, 3.1% dividend yield).
  • Mamoura Real-estate Investment (SMRI) resumed trading on Jul. 18, 2019 after discussing and approving 2018 annual financial results and deciding to distribute 5% cash dividend (IQD0.05 dividend per share, 2.8% dividend yield).
  • International Development Bank for Investment (BIDB) resumed trading on Jul. 18, 2019 after discussing and approving 2018 annual financial results.
  • Original shares of Al-Ameen Insurance (NAME) resumed trading on Jul. 16, 2019 after discussing and approving 2018 annual financial results and increasing the capital from IQD3.8 bn to IQD5.0 bn through 30.9% rights issue. The company closed the day at IQD0.37 per share, down by 27.5%.
  • Palestine Hotel (HPAL) resumed trading on Jul. 17, 2019 after discussing and approving 2017 annual financial results.
  • ISX suspended trading Bank of Baghdad (BBOB) starting on Jul. 16, 2019 due to the AGM that will be held on Jul. 20, 2019 to discuss and approve 2018 annual financial results.
  • Gulf Insurance and Reinsurance (NGIR) resumed trading on Jul. 15, 2019 due to fulfilling ISC’s request to provide 3M19 financial results.
  • ISX suspended trading of Al-Mosul for Funfairs (SMOF) starting Jul. 15, 2019 due to the AGM that would be held on Jul. 18, 2019 to discuss and approve 2018 annual financial results.
  • Credit Bank of Iraq (BROI) decided to distribute 2% cash dividend (IQD0.02 cash dividend per share, 5.1% dividend yield) in its AGM that was held on Jul. 13, 2019.

By John Lee.

Iraq’s National Investment Commission (NIC) has reportedly approved plans for a British company to develop a 4,000 acre site near Baghdad International Airport (BIAP).

According to Thomson Reuters, the NIC is negotiating with Iraqi companies to develop the remaining 16,000 acres of the land that cabinet approved for development in May.

More here.

(Source: Thomson Reuters)

NIC Chairman: Iraq is an Attractive Environment for Power Sector

National Investment Commission (NIC) Chairman, Dr. Sami Al-Araji assured, during a word he delivered in Powering Iraq Conference held in Baghdad July.10.19 that Iraq is an attractive environment for capitals in various economic sectors and at the top stands the power sector and that investment laws and regulations contained generous incentives that fertilize the land for the foreign companies to invest in the country.

The conference was attended by Ministers of Oil and electricity, Ministries and Government institutions representatives, Iraqi private sector representatives in addition to Ambassadors of a number of countries.

NIC Chairman stated that the Commission granted a number of investment licenses in power sector a head of which was Bismayah Power station executed by Mass Holding Company with a capacity of 3000 MW and work is proceeding to add 1500 MW, as it is currently covering 60% of Baghdad need for electricity power, while other licenses were granted to implement power stations in the southern part of Iraq with an estimated total capacity of 4500 MW (some of them are achieved and others in their final completion stages).

He also added that NIC is keen to cooperate with other relative ministries and institutions to achieve self- sufficiency in power in all its types including employing the renewable energy to reach this goal. Dr. Sami also praised the role of the local and foreign private sector which contributed to motivating the investment wheel in various strategic and vital sectors like (Oil and Gas, Housing, Industry, Health, Agriculture, and higher education) disseminated all over Iraqi provinces in a way that provided new national income resources.

NIC Chairman invited the Government and the Parliament to issue the legislations that can contribute to implementing the five year and ten year plans laid to guarantee the substantial development, stressing the continuance in NIC program aiming at constructing strategic investment projects that serves the country like the housing project of Bismayah consisting of 100 thousand housing unit.

The conference works also witnessed speeches for Minister of Oil, Minister of Electricity, Representative of the Ministry of Industry and Minerals, Ambassadors of US and UK. the conference was attended by more than 200 businessmen from inside and outside Iraq during which presentations of Ministries of oil and Electricity were presented in the fields of energy and alt- energy and was closed by round tables meetings between the Public and private sectors.

(Source: NIC)

By Robbie Gramer, for Foreign Policy. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Pompeo Seeks to Make Baghdad Embassy Pullout Permanent, Officials Say

In May, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ordered a partial evacuation of diplomats from the U.S. Embassy in Iraq amid escalating tensions with Iran.

Now, several State Department officials say they are being told the drawdown in embassy staff will effectively become permanent, a move that could leave the U.S. Embassy short-staffed to undertake important tasks like countering Iran on the diplomatic front—and in the short-term has marooned hundreds of diplomats in the Washington area without an embassy to go back to.

Click here to read the full story.

Siemens, the Iraqi Ministry of Health and the Directorate of Health in Salah ad-Din Province have announced the completion of building repairs and the impending installation of Siemens medical equipment at the Al-Tawheed Center.

The clinic, located in Baiji, has been fully renovated by the Ministry of Health and will be equipped with Siemens technology to provide much-needed medical care to residents of the province, approximately 200km north of Baghdad.

Siemens will donate all medical and power equipment required for the Al-Tawheed Center to the German non-governmental organization Stiftung der Deutschen Lions, enabling them to complete center’s rehabilitation.

When complete, the center will have the capacity to treat up to 10,000 patients a year. The Siemens equipment includes a digital x-ray, a dental treatment center, state-of-the-art laboratory equipment including a hematology blood analyzer, a power transformer and other technical equipment required to ensure uninterrupted power supply.

Musab Alkateeb, CEO of Siemens Iraq, said:

This health clinic is an important part of our commitment to the Iraqi people, and we are pleased to be working with the Ministry of Health and local leaders to return this important facility to the community.

“Siemens has a long relationship with the city of Baiji and its people, and we understand the importance of enabling access to high-quality, reliable healthcare as we work together to build the New Iraq.

(Source: Siemens)

By John Lee.

The Jordanian-Iraqi Forum on digital transformation in the financial sector was held on Wednesday in Baghdad.

It was organized as part of the partnership between Jordan’s Information and Communications Technology Association (int@j), the Jordanian-Iraqi Economic Association, the Iraq Private Banks League, and the International Finance Corporation, and saw the participation of 30 Jordanian IT companies.

Through the forum, int@j aims to assist Jordanian IT companies enter the Iraqi market.

The Chairman of the Board of Directors at int@j, Dr. Bashar Hawamdeh, said that the company’s role in organizing the forum is part of their efforts to bolster networking among Jordanian companies and Iraqi banks and others operating in the financial sector. int@j’s role in organizing the forum comes as well amidst efforts to enable Jordanian companies to offer their expertise in digital transformation and technology to Iraqi sectors more broadly, particularly considering there exists an urgent need on the Iraqi side to implement digital transformation projects.

Dr. Hawamdeh noted that the Iraqi market is an important market to Jordanian companies, as those companies possess significant expertise in systems building and management. He added that Jordanian companies have been instrumental in developing e-governance for states in the region and have assisted in building systems that serve digital transformation.

He added that the forum is an opportune time for Jordanian companies to explore opportunities related to cooperation and sharing of expertise, especially considering the faith the Iraqi market has in Jordanian expertise in all areas.

The following Jordanian companies are taking part in the forum: Access 2 Arabia, Bridges PR and Events, Globitel, Green Circle Co., Hayyan Horizons, MenalTech, HyperPay, MadfooatCom, Jordan Payments and Clearing Company (JoPACC), Middle East Payment Services (MEPS), and Quality Business Solutions.

Also participating in the conference are: Real Soft Advanced Applications, Sidra Electronic Payment Software, Synaptic Technologies, Trismart, VTEL Holdings, dot.Jo, Jordan Data Systems, Takamol, ProgressSoft, Al Bayanat Al-Raqamiah for Information Technology, Image Technologies (ITECJ), OPTIMIZA, Oracle, Jordan Systems Consulting Co, OFFTEC, Dell, KPMG Jordan, Virtual/Al-Nayi for Informational and Communications Consulting, and Mawdoo3.com.

(Source: int@j)

JICA (Japan) and UNDP Partnership Agreement to Accelerate the Projects for Socio-Economic Development in Iraq

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and UNDP announced a renewed agreement and commemorated the 10th anniversary for their partnership to accelerate the implementation of socio-economic infrastructure projects in Iraq to improve the economic recovery and living condition of Iraqi people in key sectors such as electricity, water and sanitation, oil, irrigation, transportation, industry, health and communication. The GoI welcomes the reinforced partnership between JICA and UNDP.

Since 2008, JICA has signed 31 loan agreements, total amount of which is JPY 830 billion (equivalent to USD 7.7 billion), with Iraqi Government for economic and social infrastructure projects and programs in Iraq to improve daily lives of Iraqi people. In order to ensure accountability, transparency and efficiency in project implementation, the Government of Iraq (GoI) and the Government of Japan/JICA jointly established a monitoring mechanism called Monitoring Committee (M/C) in 2008. UNDP has undertaken the supporting role to assist and advise the M/C based on the partnership agreement between JICA and UNDP.

Under this partnership, UNDP has been working alongside JICA and the Government of Iraq (GoI) on project monitoring and capacity development. UNDP identifies bottlenecks pertaining to project implementation, providing analyses and recommendations for action on cross-cutting issues to the M/C to accelerate project implementation.

The M/C is the longest continual committee in the GoI system as the 43rd M/C Meeting was held on 4th July 2019 in Baghdad with Iraqi ministries to update the progress and find the solutions for challenges that the projects face in order to accelerate the project implementation and deliver the public services to the Iraqi people.

The GoI, JICA and UNDP reconfirm all parties’ continual efforts to enhance this tripartite collaboration mechanism to expedite the improvement of national strategic infrastructures, which will contribute to better public services as well as to the private sector development for more and better job opportunities.

(Source: UN)

By John Lee.

The Iraqi Cabinet held its regular meeting in Baghdad on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister, Adil Abd Al-Mahdi, at which it discussed a series of recommendations by the Ministerial Committee for Energy regarding a number of strategic projects aimed at increasing Iraq’s oil production and exporting capacities.

The Cabinet approved the proposed Iraq-Jordan oil pipeline, and the construction of offshore oil exporting facilities in Iraq’s territorial waters in the Gulf.

it also discussed a number of infrastructure and service projects and approved a proposal from the Ministry of Construction and Housing for a pedestrian bridge in the Gherai’at area in Baghdad.

The Cabinet also approved several measures to encourage Iraqi, Arab and international investment in Iraq, including further action to cut red tape and streamline procedures.

The Cabinet approved a draft law on the accession by the Republic of Iraq to the 1997 Protocol to amend the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (1973) as modified by the 1978 Protocol.

(Source: Govt of Iraq)

By Ahmed Mousa Jiyad.

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

SOMO Discloses Data on its Spot Sales[1]

In an unprecedented move, SOMO and the Ministry of Oil-MoO disclosed recently detailed data on quantities and revenues of crude oil sold directly through “electronic auction” or “spot trading” to named international oil buyers-IOBs; this occurs after more than 20 months of my constant personal follow-up and communications on the issue.

The disclosure shows that during the period between the start of June 2017 and end of May 2019 total spot sales reached more than 76.4 million barrels-mbs, generating total revenues of more than $4.5 billion, including additional/extra revenues (due to premium over official selling price-OSP) of more than $59.6 million.

Undoubtedly, the background and details of this disclosure testify the importance of this development and render it as valuable precedent that must be commended and maintained, but with improved formalized modality.

Data analysis indicates, on the one hand, the increasing importance of this type of spot trading in generating “additional revenues”; but on the other hand, such temptations of additional short-term gains could lead to negative impact on SOMO’s strategic and marketing positioning in the medium and long terms, which could cause significant erosion in future oil exports and revenues.

Therefore, in the light of the analysis, it was suggested to the concerned authorities to seriously explore the feasibility of establishing an electronic platform for spot sales, within SOMO (SOMO-Spot), which works exclusively in spot sales of the Iraqi crude oil under terms, conditions and mechanisms that adhere strictly to three principles: competitiveness, transparency (of structural-operational governance) and efficiency.

Due to the importance of the topic, this article includes a brief background of the issue; reviews details of the data provided by SOMO; provides some analytical notes and finally proposes a special platform for the sale of Iraqi oil under competitive transparent spot trading modality.

Highlighting and Follow-up Spot Sales Issue- a brief history

I have dealt with this subject in detail using statistics and official data and I had direct contacts with SOMO on the matter. Also I shared my writings (in Arabic and English) within my extended professional network, which comprises a very large number (over 2000) of senior government officials, current and former ministers and parliamentarians, specialists, academics, research centers, civil society organizations, media, oil companies among others. Moreover, my contributions have been, and are usually, posted on many websites, others’ networks and social media channels inside and outside of Iraq.

I raised the issue for the first time at the beginning of September 2017[2]. Then I received a request from the Ministry of Oil to make a presentation on the subject (in addition to my other two papers that were already accepted by the Conference Committee) before the “Iraqi Investment Conference” scheduled, then, to be held in Baghdad on  22-23 October of that year.[3] The conference was not held as it was abruptly canceled under the directives of former Oil Minister, Jabbar Luaibi, without giving reasons (according to official correspondence I received from the Conference’ Preparatory Committee dated 26 October 2017).

The cancellation of the above-mentioned conference seemed to have prompted SOMO to act; they immediately sent official letter inviting me to Baghdad to discuss, with its leadership and senior specialists, what I wrote on the subject. But, for several reasons, I was unable to go and, alternatively, I proposed holding the meeting through Skype facilities. That was done on 12 December 2017, and the session lasted for three hours with spot trading was at the center of the discussed topics, and my emphases on the necessity of providing more details on this new activity by SOMO.[4]

Instead of providing more data and details on spot sales, the Ministry suddenly terminated the publication of the only data, i.e. total revenues from spot sales, in its monthly production and consumption report, from January 2018 onwards (again during Jabbar Luaibi period!!).

That termination and non-action by SOMO prompted me to raise the matter again. That was done through my article of 21 March 2019, which it called on the Ministry and SOMO to provide explanation about these spot sales and their related revenues.[5]

Immediately afterwards, on 23 March, I received a detailed formal letter signed by SOMO’ DG. But that letter did not provide material evidence and did not provide enough or convincing answers to the questions rose in my article. I, on the same day, prepared and posted detailed letter to SOMO’s DG stating exactly what information SOMO was supposed to do for clarifying the status of those sales.

It is worth mentioning in this juncture that the Ministry posted on its website on 25 March a selected “part” of the letter that was sent to me (referred to above) by SOMO.[6]

It took SOMO three months to prepare detailed data on the subject and both SOMO and the Ministry finally yielded by posting the data on their websites on June 23.

SOMO data and what it comprises

The data was prepared by SOMO’s Commercial Financial Commission– CFC and were presented through four tables without any explanatory notes or clarifications.

Table 1 provides details of each crude oil shipments sold through auctions at Dubai Mercantile Exchange-DME during 2017; these details include: the month, buyer/company name, shipment number, date of sale and date of loading, type/brand of crude oil, quantity, price premium (dollars a barrel), the additional realized revenues, actual selling price per barrel and total revenue.

The quantity of crude oil sold amounted to 1.959 million barrels-mbs with total revenues of about $999 million, including additional revenue of about $13.4 million.

Table 2 provides details of crude oil shipments sold through the DME in 2018: the sold crude was more than 7.5 mbs with total revenues of about $465 million including additional revenue of more than $2 million.

Table 3 titled “quantities and deliveries of crude oil shipments that were sold at a price premium and additional revenue during 2017/2018” shows that sold crude reached about 16 mbs with total revenues of about $920 million including additional revenue of more than $7.9 million.

Finally, Table 4 shows “quantities and deliveries of crude oil shipments sold at a price premium and additional revenue during 2019”; by the end of April.

Crude oil reached more than 20 mbs with total revenues of about $1.251 billion comprising additional revenue of over $20.5 million.

In its May report, SOMO presented a table on “quantities and deliveries of crude oil shipments sold at a price premium and additional revenue during May 2019.” The amount of crude oil sold in May was about 13.3 mbs with total revenues of more than $913 million including additional revenue of about $16 million.

Analysis and Assessment of SOMO’s Disclosure

This section highlights the positive aspects of this disclosure, identifies what could reduce or question its credibility that should be addressed and warns against possible danger of shortsightedness that favors short-term financial gains at the expense of the strategic marketing positioning of SOMO and its share in the competitive international oil market in the medium and long terms.

First: an important precedent that establishes necessary requirements and commitments.

Through my continuous monitoring and documenting the activities of and developments in the oil sector and SOMO for more than three decades, I assert this disclosure is very important precedent that deserves appreciation and support. Moreover, this disclosure is instrumental that could help in the following:

  • It constitutes the material basis and minimum threshold for quality, detail and comprehensiveness of data relating to activities of SOMO (and the Ministry of Oil) that must be provided in the future on a monthly basis;
  • The necessity of expanding this disclosure to include not only the spot sales of crude oil, but also the regular monthly sales of crude oil pursuant to the annually concluded “Term Contracts” between SOMO with it clients of international oil buyers-IOBs;
  • This level of disclosure enhances transparency in monitoring of oil export revenues and greatly facilitates verification and data reconciliation to ensure the reliability and accuracy of such data;
  • SOMO data can be considered as example and model to be followed by other national companies affiliated with the Ministry to achieve advanced levels of transparency and oil sector governance. It is worth mentioning here that EITI Standard 2019 adopted at the World Conference of EITI held in Paris last month requires a lot of such detailed information and data disclosure.

Second: The Follow-up and Communication Bear Fruit

When I raised the matter publically (as mentioned above) we did not know the exact volumes and details of spot sale operations. Now and after about two years of follow-up and direct contacts with SOMO,  everyone knows (or can know) that the total of these sales have, between the start of June 2017 and the end of May 2019, exceeded 76.4 mbs, generating total revenues of more than $4.5 billion, including $ 59.6 million of additional revenues- due to price premium.

This means that had the issue was not raised and followed-up, SOMO and the Ministry probably do not disclose these large quantities and huge returns resulting from these spot sales;

This case also shows that individual, professional and objective follow-up, based on official/formal statistics and reliable sources, can encourage (or force) official authorities (in this case SOMO and the Ministry of Oil) to respond and communicate with oil experts and specialists from outside the oil sector.

At the same time, it is vital to ensure the sustainability and continuity of this disclosure and expand it to include all the activities of the oil sector, taking into account the specificity of the sub-sectors of petroleum and various departments of the Ministry.

Third: Transparency Concerns Regarding Direct Spot Trading

Despite the importance of this disclosure and the need for its continuity, it is vital to take note of its apparent weaknesses and shortcomings that should be addressed.

  1. SOMO data refers to two types of tables: the first relates to the details of crude oil sold electronically through the DME during 2017 and 2018; the second did not include any information of how the sales were done and the name of the platform/stock exchange auction from December 2017 until the end of May 2019. This lack of information shed doubt on and questions the credibility of the ministry’s announcement (referred to above), which stated that all sales were done “by electronic auction on the DME, Platts..”, while SOMO tables make no reference at all to Platts or to any other platform for online auction. Unless SOMO identifies the name of the auction platform, it could lead to the belief that SOMO has actually carried out these operations directly with the concerned IOBs in a non-competitive way. This suspicion of irregularity is enhanced by the fact that “the date of sale” for each and every deal was not mentioned. All the above are symptoms of irregularity, inside-trading and thus constitute a lack of transparency in the process, which raises doubts about its credibility and thus opens the door for suspecting the possibility of corruption;
  2. When comparing the components of these two types of tables, the only difference between them is that the first type includes a column entitled “Date of sale/date of loading” for each shipment of crude oil sold on the DME, while the second type includes “loading date” only. This is an additional and important flaw in the transparency of the immediate direct deal mechanism;
  3. The DME provides information regarding each auction in terms of the date and time of auction; the duration of bidding during the auction; the number of companies that paid the participation fees; the number of companies that actually took part in the auction; the number of offers made during the auction and finally the highest price premium among others. As for the spot deals done by SOMO outside DME, SOMO did not provide any of the above information!!!

Fourth: Cautionary Remarks against the Ambiguity and Temptations of the “Additional Revenues”

SOMO’s earning, of extra revenues (due to premium over OSP) through spot deals, of over $59.6 million during the period between the beginning of June 2017 and the end of May 2019 is good addition to state treasury.

However, caution should be exercised as adopting this financial indicator (i.e. additional revenue) and promoting it as indication of efficiency and achievement may provide cover-up for irregular (or even illegal) practices that may lead to suspicion of corruption, especially when such spot trading was conducted with weak, or even without, supportive material evidence. Hence, the integrity, competitiveness and transparency of the process could be seriously tarnished. Simply stated, additional revenues could occur, hypothetically as well as in reality, parallel with giving bribe through splitting the premium.

Additional revenues also indicate giving preference to short-term financial gains over and against strategic positioning at medium and long term interests that may cause or pose costly strategic losses.

The fear from preference for short term gains can be exhibited by the following comparisons.

The following analysis is premised on the comparison between the quantities of crude oil sold through spot deals and total crude oil exports in the same months in which spot deals were done.

  • Total crude oil sold under spot trading since the beginning of June 2017 to the end of May 2019 was more than 76.4 mbs, which constitutes about 3.9% of the total oil exports in the same months in which spot deals were done (or loaded on tankers). However, if we look at the annual pattern, the above ratio increased constantly and significantly from 2.6% in 2017 to 3.4% in 2018 to 6.4% in 2019;
  • Looking at the monthly comparisons we find that this percentage has risen (but at fluctuating fashion) from 3.6% in January 2018 to 12% in May 2019. But what draws attention (in addition to this increase of more than three folds) is that the increase or decrease in spot deals was in some months does not corresponds (in direction and volume) with the increase or decrease in total oil exports in many months. For example, spot sales in November 2018 increased by 3.342 mbs over previous deals in April 2018, while the increase in total oil exports for those months was only 1.117 mbs. In another example, while total volume of oil sales decreased, the volume of spot deals increased. Total sales in April 2018 decreased by 6.853mbs from previous month, while spot sales increased by more than 1 mbs during the same months. The third example is on the decline in both the total and spot sales, but the decline in the latter was much lower than in the former; total sales decreased by 11.723 mbs in February 2019 compared to the previous month, while the corresponding decrease in spot sales was only 522 thousand barrels.
  • Spot deals of the Kirkuk oil blend presents a very worrying example. During the period between the beginning of December 2018 and end May 2019, 12 shipments were sold by spot trading covering a total of 5.25 mbs, or about 33% of the total exports of Kirkuk oil during the same period. But on a monthly basis we find that this percentage has increased continuously from about 24.8% to more than double that, or 54.5% between January and May of this year. This is a trend whose consequences may be underestimated or overlooked as a result of increasing sales of spot deals in a direct and non-competitive manner as explained above. It may be useful to recall what former SOMO DG and one of the proponents of spot trading (i.e., Dr. Falah Al Ameri) reportedly said, “We lost our market in Europe, it weakened, especially Kirkuk grade”[7]. But, does selling this high percentage of Kirkuk oil in this way deepen the loss of the European market for Iraqi oil or recover it?

These and other examples demonstrate that the “additional revenue temptations” of spot deals make such deal preferable at the expense of meeting the needs of the IOBs, which are the traditional customers to buy Iraqi oil. The advantage given by SOMO’s spot sales could negatively impact the reputation and credibility of SOMO and the confidence in its commitment in honouring the obligations of the “Annual Term Contracts” that are concluded between those IOBs and SOMO.

Proposals for Discussion and Considerations

In order to capture the fiscal advantages of spot sale in a more regulated and coordinated manner and to avoid the possible negative impacts of this trading on the annual term-contract modality that has been adopted by SOMO for decades, I suggest the followings:

  • Detailed thorough professional study or a background/discussion paper should be done to evaluate SOMO’ experience in crude oil spot trading since the commencement of this new activity in April 2017 to date. The purpose is to determine the positive and negative aspects, the operational and procedural requirements that were adopted and diagnose lessons learned and explore possible scenarios to achieve good results for Iraq;
  • SOMO, the Ministry and other representatives at SOMO Ministerial Committee should determine specific percentage of oil exports that could be earmarked for spot trading. This percentage, based on the type of crude oil, could be determined annually (in parallel to the practice of the annual term-contracts established by SOMO for several years) and monthly (in parallel with the practice of the monthly Ministerial Committee decisions implemented by SOMO for several years by now). These allocations for spot trading should be fully, timely and publically announced, particularly on SOMO website, at specific time intervals;
  • Assessing the feasibility of setting up SOMO’s own spot trading electronic platform, e.g., SOMO Spot Trading-SST, that offers Iraqi crudes exclusively- currently including Basra light, Basra heavy, Kirkuk blend and Qayara oil. The proposed platform, i.e., SST could also deal with petroleum products such as condensate, naphtha, NGL, LPG and other products in addition to oil produced in Kurdistan (in case of agreement between the federal government and the provincial government in implementation of the annual budget laws). New oil grades can be added in the future (such as Basra medium, Al-Yamama oil- known for high quality/API etc.,) in the light of oilfield development projects currently on implementation;
  • The proposed platform (SST) may be managed either within the existing SOMO’ administrative structure or by the establishment of a subsidiary company (e.g., SOMO-SPOT). The conditions, controls and practical and organizational procedures of the proposed platform for spot trading must be well elaborated and premised on three fundamental principles: competitiveness, transparency and efficiency. Direct spot sale to oil buyers without bidding should be strictly prohibited and constitute punishable offence;
  • The governance of SST and its management should be subject to the same control and oversight by the Ministerial Committee with additional openness and answerability.

 

[1] This article was originally written in Arabic, shared with my professional network of contacts and posted on many websites such as: https://www.akhbaar.org/home/2019/7/259802.html and

http://www.tellskuf.com/index.php/mq/83238-uj065.html

[2] Debating SOMO’ TransformationThe English text posted on IBN and AlKhbaar on 5 Sept 2017 http://www.iraq-businessnews.com/2017/09/05/expert-blog-debating-somo-transformation/  ; http://www.akhbaar.org/home/2017/9/233074.html and the Arabic text on http://www.akhbaar.org/home/2017/9/233297.html

[3] https://oil.gov.iq/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1653

[4] Reforming and Transforming SOMO- A Follow Up, posted on IBN on 13 Dec 2017 http://www.iraq-businessnews.com/2017/12/13/reforming-and-transforming-somo/ and on Al-Akhbaar 13 Dec 2017 http://www.akhbaar.org/home/2017/12/238018.html

[5] My article can be found and accessed through the link   http://www.akhbaar.org/home/2019/3/255755.html

[6] https://oil.gov.iq/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=2276

[7] As reported by Iraq Oil Report-IOR, 24 May 2017

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.