By John Lee.

Standard Chartered bank is reportedly reviving stalled plans to open a new branch for corporate customers in Basra in the first half of 2020.

This would be the UK-based bank’s third branch in Iraq.

Its Iraq CEO Mohammed Jawad Al-Delaimy told Bloomberg:

“Security in Iraq has improved dramatically … We have witnessed international companies decreasing their security requirements and risk levels.”

He added that profits in Iraq have been increasing since 2014, and said the bank plans to sign financing deals worth about $500 million for electricity projects by early next year.

More here.

(Source: Bloomberg)

UK International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox MP has visited Baghdad for a three-day visit (Sunday, 14 April to Tuesday, 16 April 2019) where he met with the Iraqi Prime Minister and announced that UK Export Finance (UKEF) will make an additional £1 billion of support available for British firms operating in Iraq, providing jobs and promoting stability in the region.

In the first visit to Iraq by a cabinet minister for more than a year, Dr Fox will be meeting with senior Iraqis including the Prime Minister and President to discuss the bilateral trading relationship.

Alongside the Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mehdi, the Trade Secretary announced that UK Export Finance is making an additional £1 billion available to support UK exports to Iraq, bringing its total support for the country to £2 billion.

The measure is designed to promote Iraq’s economic development and nation-building, ensuring that UKEF can continue to help the Government of Iraq deliver critical infrastructure.

To date, UKEF has deployed its existing capacity for Iraq, providing around £1 billion in support for projects including:

  • A US$35 million (£26 million) loan for the scoping phase of a water and wastewater treatment project in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq provided by UK company Biwater
  • US$1.02 billion (£770 million) to support Enka UK and GE to build 2 new gas-fired power stations in the Basra region and UK-based GE Grid Solutions to build and refurbish 14 electricity sub-stations across Iraq
  • support for a €30.2 million (£26 million) Siemens UK contract to refurbish the 320-megawatt Al Mussaib power station in southern Iraq
  • a loan to support a US$220 million (£169 million) contract being undertaken by a UK subsidiary of GE to refurbish gas-fired power stations

This support is available to UK companies selling to Iraq or investing in the country and will help the Government of Iraq access finance for projects that source goods and services from the UK.

The International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox MP said:

The atmosphere in Baghdad is one of optimism – it is a country which is having an increasingly stable period at a time of significant unrest in the wider region. The British government, working closely with the UK private sector and our Iraqi partners, have a key role to play in the country’s long-term prosperity. The £1 billion we have announced today will significantly strengthen our ability to do just that.

“Iraq’s future is bright, and my international economic department will continue to work tirelessly to ensure it maintains this stability, allowing the hard work of its talented citizens to flourish for the benefit of all.

“Trade is about more than economic self-interest, it is the means through which we deliver the mutual prosperity that underpins our collective security. That is the true prize of trade policy and promotion done right.

During the visit, the Trade Secretary will speak to young Iraqi entrepreneurs who are working to create a more vibrant private sector to support the long-term stabilisation and prosperity of Iraq. He will also meet British firms operating in-country whose investments are vital in the country’s rebuilding efforts.

Siemens UK is improving the electricity supply in Iraq using UKEF finance. Steve Scrimshaw, Country Lead, Gas and Power UK and Ireland, Siemens UK, said:

We are delighted this additional funding has been made available for ongoing regeneration in Iraq and look forward to working with UKEF and the Iraqi government on future opportunities.

“Siemens has already benefited from UKEF support for work on the refurbishment of the Al Mussaib power plant. This will be vital for the people of Iraq who will benefit from both the power and the jobs it will create. With work being delivered from our Newcastle business, it is also helping to secure jobs in the UK.

(Source: UK FCO)

Iraq announced on Thursday the completion of the “technical preparations” to extend a pipeline to export one million barrels of oil per day through Jordan, Petra has reported.

“The export capacity of the Basra-Aqaba pipeline, which runs through Jordan, is expected to reach one million barrels per day (bpd),” Iraqi oil minister, Thamir Al-Ghadhban, said in a statement.

Al-Ghadhban explained that Iraq had completed the planning arrangements of the pipeline’s construction work. “The arrangements included its [the pipeline’s] track, components, absorptive capacity, the mechanisms of linking it to the northern Kirkuk oil fields, funding sources, and implementation and operational means,” he said.

The Iraqi official stressed that his country was only depending on the southern portal city of Basra for oil exports, noting that the ministry has prepared “a major plan for its rehabilitation and development with the aim to increase its export capacity levels.”

The government, Al-Ghadhban pointed out, plans to establish three linked crude oil exporting ports.

Baghdad and Amman recently concluded six bilateral agreements to develop their relations, most notably in the oil and energy sectors. The two governments said the agreements aimed at “revitalising” their economies and strengthening ties between Iraq and Jordan.

(Source: Middle East Monitor)

By John Lee.

A Chinese company has reportedly won a contract to build a natural gas liquids (NGL) plant in Basra.

According to Xinhua, China’s Petroleum Engineering and Construction Corporation (CPECC) signed the contract on Wednesday with Iraq’s Basra Gas Company (BGC).

As a result of the new plant, BGC will increase its gas production capacity by 40 percent.

The Basra NGL facility will be built in Ar-Ratawi area in west of Basra and is scheduled to complete at the end of 2020.

CPECC is a subsidiary of the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC),

(Source: Xinhua)

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

As the United States enacts sanctions on Iran, Iran is increasing its influence in Iraq with plans for a railway that could work around US restrictions.

The state-owned Islamic Republic of Iran Railways (RAI) revealed details Nov. 12 about its project to build a railway connecting Iran’s Shalamcheh border crossing to the port of Basra in southeast Iraq.

Maziar Yazdani, RAI’s deputy head of infrastructure and technical affairs, said the Shalamcheh-Basra leg of the project will require only 20 miles of new track at a cost of about $52,000. With the new addition, the rail system will span Iraq to reach Syria’s Mediterranean port city of Latakia.

Click here to read the full story.

(Picture Credit: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

By Glada Lahn and Nouar Shamout, for Chatham House.

Violent protests erupted in Basra this summer in response to the deterioration of public services. At the centre of the unrest is a water supply crisis which Iraq can only solve with regional and international cooperation.

In August, frustrations over crippled public services, drought and unemployment in Al-Basra governorate boiled over.

The acute cause was a water contamination crisis. By the end of October, hospital admissions of those suffering from poisoning exceeded 100,000 according to health officials.

Crops and animals in the rural areas have been severely affected by lack of water and current levels of salinity, with thousands migrating to Basra city.

Click here to read the full story.

By Ahmed Twaij, for Foreign Policy.

Recent violent protests in the southern Iraqi city of Basra have brought to light years of suffering by Iraqis in what is known as the economic capital of Iraq due to its vast oil reserves and deep-sea port access connecting the country to the international market.

Basra, a predominantly Shiite city, also has a significant minority population, including black Iraqis and Christians. It is Iraq’s second-largest city and has developed a reputation for fostering some of Iraq’s greatest artists.

During the first Gulf War, the Iraqi military used Basra as a route for the Kuwait invasion; ironically, a decade later, U.S.-led forces used it as a path toward Baghdad during the 2003 invasion.

Click here to read the full story.

By Hamdi Malik for Al Monitor. Any views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

As protests continue, residents of Iraq’s Basra call for autonomy

Anger is escalating in Basra over the new government’s stance toward this strategic city and the demands of its people. The continued marginalization of this oil-rich city could spell a new round of unrest.

Voices have been calling for new protests and sit-ins in Basra in light of what activists describe as neglect of the province by the Iraqi central and local governments.

As part of their efforts to organize protests, Basra activists launched the Arabic hashtag that translates into “We are coming back for you.”

They called on Basra’s residents to stage mass protests in front of the South Oil Company (SOC) on Nov. 4 and to prevent its employees from entering its premises.

Click here to read the full story.

(Picture credit: Ahmed Mahmoud)

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

Doctors in the southern Iraqi city of Basra are worried that diseases like cholera and diarrhoea might spread through the city’s unuseable water supply.

Basra’s canals are blocked by piles of rubbish and its sanitation system has collapsed.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has warned that nearly 280,000 children could be affected by diarrhoea and rashes.

Al Jazeera‘s Rob Matheson reports:

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

The oil-rich port city of Basra is feeling the heat of the intensifying conflict between the United States and Iran. Pro-Iranian armed groups that threaten the United States from time to time are active in the city. The US-Iran tension is expected to affect the economic situation in Iraq in general, and in Basra in particular.

The US State Department announced Sept. 28 its intention to close its consulate in Basra and pull out its diplomats. This comes after three mortar shells targeted the US Consulate there.

On Sept. 29, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused the Quds Force — a special force unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — and its commander Qasem Soleimani of being behind the threats. The United States “will respond promptly and appropriately to any such attacks,” he said.

Click here to read the full story.

(Picture credit: Ahmed Mahmoud)