The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) took a significant group of members on a trade mission to KRI this week. Paramount was the need to review business opportunities and investment in the region and to learn directly from the Prime Minister Barzani his plans for business and industry.

The group, led by Baroness Nicholson, UK Trade Envoy to Iraq, Christophe Michels MD of IBBC and Eng Rasmi Al Jabri, Deputy Chairman of IBBC included representatives from Jaguar LandRover, Crescent Petroleum, EY, Siemens, Sardar Trading Agency, Garda World, Stirling Education, KPMG, G4S, OilServ Kuwait, and from the DIT Mr Rawand Askary, and James Thornton of UK FCO.

The Prime Minister introduced a number of Ministers for discussion with the group, including KRI Minister of Electricity Mr Kamal Mohammad Saleh discussing project finance and other related matters. The DG of the KRIs MoI joint crisis coordination centre Mr Hoshang Mohamed discussed the clearance of IEDs & mines and the handling of the overall IDP and refugee crisis (that G4S have been heavily engaged with).

In conversation, Mr Barzani stated that ‘the KRI government will bring in reforms to cut down on red tape for the private sector to develop. It will pursue a policy of registering companies through a ‘one window’ online portal which should allow company registrations to be done in the same time it takes in western countries to do so. He also said that the new administration is streamlining overall bureaucracy for private businesses to limit unnecessary Government interference.

The Government is also planning to draft a new bribery law to fight corruption and is looking at reviewing its financial framework to encourage PPPs throughout the economy including education and health. Diversification of the economy is big on the agenda with agriculture, tourism and the manufacturing of goods being a priority. KRI should import less and produce more and eventually find markets outside its borders for its products. Foreign partners for all of this are sought after.’

A permanent revenue sharing agreement with Baghdad is top of the agenda among other things to allow credit export agencies to work directly in the KRIG.’

On Sunday the Planning Minister and Mr Amanj Raheem, Cabinet Secretary, Kurdistan Regional Government spoke, and the Ministers for Construction and Electricity attended the British Consulate Reception taking place at the JLR show room kindly sponsored by Sadar Trading Agencies – thanks to Mr Sardar Al-Bebany Chairman and CEO. Dr Dara Al Khayat, Chairman of KRI federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Erbil, hosted a Monday evening event and on Tuesday the mission visited Crescent Petroleum offices.

The trip continued to Baghdad

(Source: IBBC)

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) was pleased to be an official partner of Chatham House’s “Iraq in Transition” conference on the 2nd and 3rd October. The event was held by the Chatham House Iraq Initiative, led by Dr Renad Mansour.

On Thursday the 3rd of October the President of IBBC, Baroness Nicholson, chaired a working group on private sector development. The working group also consisted of a speech by Zaid Elyaseri, country Manager of IBBC Founder Member BP.

This first Chatham House Iraq Initiative conference was a huge success and well attended by the private sector, NGOs, universities, Iraqi and British Government officials, the media and representatives of the UN and the EU. IBBC was delighted that one of their member companies Crescent Petroleum, was the main sponsor of the event and to see so many of its members and members of the IBBC Young Executive Network attending.

https://www.chathamhouse.org/event/iraq-transition

https://www.chathamhouse.org/about/structure/mena-programme/iraq-initiative-project

(Source: IBBC)

By Padraig O’Hannelly.

A senior oil executive has predicted that Iraq could surpass Saudi Arabia as an oil producer.

Addressing delegates at CWC‘s Iraq Petroleum conference in London, Majid Jafar (pictured), CEO of Sharjah-based Crescent Petroleum, said:

“Iraq is hugely underexplored. We at Crescent know of 300 structures just in the Western Desert that have yet to be drilled, so I for one believe that Iraq has a lot of potential, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes the largest producer in OPEC during my career.”

Crescent Petroleum has an interest in the Khor Mor field in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, and has signed initial contracts to develop the oil fields of Gilabat-Qumar (in Diyala), Khashim Ahmer-Injana (in Diyala), and Khudher Al-Mai [Khider al-Mai] (in Basra and Muthana).

By John Lee.

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) has welcomed four new members, bringing its membership to 71 companies:

Crescent Petroleum: Sharjah-based Crescent Petroleum is the only foreign oil and gas company to maintain a continuous presence in Iraq for three decades, and is the largest private oil and gas investor in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Sardar Trading Agencies (STA): One of the core companies of Sardar Group, with more than 50 years of experience in the Iraqi private business field, mainly in the automotive segment.

Stirling Education: The Luxembourg-based company is committed to providing excellent affordable education and pastoral care for students in Iraq. Across Iraq, they have around 17,000 students, 42 schools and two university campuses.

Tube Tech International: UK-based Tube Tech is a world leader in the removal of fouling from refinery, petrochemical and energy process assets.

(Source: IBBC)

By John Lee.

Pearl Petroleum is reportedly planning to raise additional funding for its drilling and development in Iraqi Kurdistan,

According to Reuters, Patrick Allman-Ward, the chief executive of Dana Gas, which is the majority owner of Pearl Petroleum, told reporters that the funding will “comprise a mix of bank debt, a bond, Exim bank financing as well as contractor and vendor financing.

The company is developing that Khor Mor and Chemchemal gas fields in Iraqi Kurdistan.

(Source: Reuters)

Pearl Petroleum Company Limited, the consortium led by Crescent Petroleum and Dana Gas of the UAE, has signed a new 20-year Gas Sales Agreement (GSA) with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to enable production and sales of an additional 250 MMscf/day that the consortium aims to produce by 2021 as part of their expansion plans in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) in order to boost much needed local domestic electricity generation.

Pursuant to the Settlement Agreement reached between the parties in August 2017, this new gas sales agreement was signed on 19th February 2019 by Dr. Ashti Hawrami, Minister of Natural Resources on behalf of the Kurdistan Regional Government, and Mr. Majid Jafar, CEO of Crescent Petroleum and Board Managing Director of Dana Gas, on behalf of Pearl Petroleum.

All approvals for the agreement, including by the the Kurdistan Region Council for Oil & Gas Affairs and the Board of Pearl Petroleum, have since been granted, with  project work now under implementation.

The Kurdistan Gas Project was established in 2007 as Dana Gas and Crescent Petroleum entered into agreement with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) for certain exclusive rights to appraise, develop, produce, market, and sell petroleum from the Khor Mor and Chemchemal fields in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).

Production from the newly built plant in Khor Mor began just 15 months later, in October 2008. In 2009, Pearl Petroleum was formed as a consortium with Dana Gas and Crescent Petroleum as shareholders, and with OMV, MOL, and RWE joining the consortium subsequently with a 10% share each.

The $700 million expansion underway at the Khor Mor plant will include the addition of two new production trains at the Khor Mor plant, as well as drilling of new wells with plans to raise production from the current 400 MMscf/day to reach 650 MMscf/day by 2021 based on this latest GSA, and then to 900 MMscf/day beyond that by 2022.

This follows the 30% production increase from debottlenecking throughput at the Khor Mor plant, which brought current total production to 106,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), making it the largest regional private sector upstream gas operation in Iraq today.

Gas sales commenced late in 2018 under a gas sales agreement signed in January of that year, and all payments have been received in a timely manner in full, which gives confidence for the investment and expansion plans currently underway by the Consortium. The Kurdistan Gas Project, which recently commemorated 10 years of continuous production, supplies natural gas from the Khor Mor field by pipeline to power plants in Bazian, Chemchemal and Erbil, as well as LPG and condensate, which are sold in the local markets.

In August 2017, Pearl Petroleum reached a full and final settlement with the KRG of the arbitration between them, including settlement of past receivables and committing to expand their investment and operations in the region. These expansion plans include the multi-well drilling program currently underway in both the Khor Mor & Chemchemal fields, as well as installation of additional gas processing and liquids extraction facilities. The fields are operated jointly by Crescent Petroleum and Dana Gas on behalf of Pearl Petroleum.

Total investment in the Kurdistan Gas Project to date exceeds $1.6 billion, with total cumulative production of over 260 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe), delivering billions of dollars in fuel cost savings and wider economic benefits for the Kurdistan Region and Iraq as a whole. That impact will continue to grow as production capacity expands in the coming years.

Dr. Ashti Hawrami, Minister of Natural Resources of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said:

“This agreement is an important step for us as we deliver improved services to the people of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq through enhanced electricity generation from the increase in gas production by the Consortium. The Kurdistan Region holds significant reserves of gas and the KRG is committed to playing a positive role in the growing gas and electricity needs of Iraq and the region.”

Mr. Majid Jafar, CEO of Crescent Petroleum and Board Managing Director of Dana Gas, commented:

“This gas sales agreement opens a new chapter in the expansion of the Kurdistan Gas Project that will see a further investment of over $700 million in coming years to expand production up to 900 MMscf/day, further fueling the Region’s economic growth and development. We look forward to developing the significant resources from these important fields, for the benefit of the Kurdistan Region and all of Iraq.”

Dr. Patrick Allman-Ward, CEO of Dana Gas, added:

“Dana Gas and our partners in Pearl Petroleum are particularly proud to be investing further in the gas sector of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, delivering a reliable source of cleaner energy, and supporting local economic development.  The continuing receipt of payments in a timely manner gives confidence for our continued investment commitment as we enter our second decade of production.”

As part of its work in the KRI, Pearl has implemented a corporate social responsibility program to support local communities, including providing school supplies, drinking water treatment, generators and fuel enabling 24-hour electricity for local villages, mobile medical units, and youth sports facilities, as well as financial support for 1,000 orphans from the Chemchemal area in partnership with a local charity Foundation.

These initiatives are assisting the local communities in improving their standard of living, health, well-being, security and stability and the development of human capital.

(Source: Dana Gas)

Dana Gas and Crescent Petroleum Announce 30% Gas Production Increase in Kurdistan Region

Dana Gas, the Middle East’s leading publicly-listed regional natural gas company, and its partner Crescent Petroleum, have announced achievement of a 30% increase in production capacity at the Khor Mor field in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, which the companies jointly operate on behalf of Pearl Petroleum.

This increase delivers much-needed gas supply to fuel power plants in the region, and marked a major milestone as the companies commemorate 10 years of continuous production in the region in a special ceremony with the Kurdistan Regional Government in Erbil.

The expansion at the Khor Mor gas processing plant consisted of a series of plant additions and modifications to de-bottleneck throughput, raising output capacity from 305 MMscfd of natural gas to 400 MMscfd, with over 15,000 barrels per day of condensate.

The Plant, which began operating in 2008, supplies natural gas from the Khor Mor field by pipeline to power plants in the towns of Chemchemal and Erbil, and will soon supply a new plant in Bazian. The Khor Mor Plant also produces LPG and NGL, which are sold and trucked to the local markets.

Under a Gas Sales agreement signed in January 2018 with the KRG Ministry of Natural Resources, Pearl Petroleum will sell the additional quantities of gas to supply the power stations with affordable, environmentally favourable fuel, and further enhance electricity supplies.

The plant expansion comes online as Pearl celebrates a decade of production in the KRI. At a ceremony in Erbil attended by Kurdish Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, Minister of Natural Resources Dr. Ashti Hawrami, and other senior officials, Board Members and senior executives from the companies commemorated the partnership between the companies and the KRG in delivering progress and improved services to the people of the region over the past decade.

Total investment in the Kurdistan Gas Project to date exceeds $1.4 billion with total cumulative production over 250 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe), which has resulted in over $20 billion of fuel cost savings and economic benefits for the Kurdistan Region and Iraq as a whole. Further investment is underway to expand production to 900mmscfd per over the coming 3 years, together with associated liquids.

Mr. Majid Jafar, CEO of Crescent Petroleum and Board Managing Director of Dana Gas, commented:

This production increase marks an important milestone as we also commemorate ten years of continuous production, and the beginning of a new chapter of expansion in operations and production which will see a further investment of over $600 million over the coming few years and a more than doubling of production again.

“The gas we have produced has led to significant fuel savings and social and economic value for the economy, and we hope to grow this in the years to come from the significant resources of these world class fields, for the benefit of the Kurdistan Region and all of Iraq.”

Dr. Patrick Allman-Ward, CEO of Dana Gas, added:

“Despite many challenges over the past ten years we are proud to have maintained our production levels and operations and now with the settlement of all past receivables last summer and continuous payments since then, we look forward to significantly growing production to meet the growing demand for gas and electricity in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq as a whole.”

In August 2017, Pearl Petroleum reached a full and final settlement with the KRG of the arbitration between them, including receiving $1 billion in cash from the KRG for past receivables and committing to expand their investment and operations in the region.

These expansion plans include a multi-well drilling program now underway in both the Khor Mor & Chemchemal fields, as well as installation of additional gas processing and liquids extraction facilities.

Operation full-time staff numbers are over 600 with over 80% local staff, and training programmes to increase this figure further. In addition, the companies has contributed to local communities with support for local power generation, education and healthcare facilities, as well as support programmes for internally displaced people in Iraqi.

The Kurdistan Gas Project was established in 2007 as Dana Gas and Crescent Petroleum entered into agreement with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) for exclusive rights to appraise, develop, produce, market, and sell petroleum from the Khor Mor and Chemchemal fields in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).

Production from the newly built plant in Khor Mor began 15 months later, in October 2008, an industry record. In 2009, Pearl Petroleum was formed as a consortium with Dana Gas and Crescent Petroleum as shareholders, and with OMV, MOL, and RWE joining the consortium subsequently with a 10% share each.

(Source: Dana Gas)

Crescent Petroleum and Dana Gas deliver vital support to AMAR IDP clinics

As Iraq’s security conditions have improved, international donors have turned their attention to other troubled parts of the world, leaving many IDP camps in the country on the brink of closure.

Thanks to the continued support of Crescent Petroleum and Dana Gas, however, AMAR have continued to deliver much needed healthcare and support to Khanke Camp’s 16,000 residents

Nearly 2 million Iraqis remain displaced within Iraq, a vast proportion of them still in camps for internally displaced people (IDPs). From victims of conflict who have lost homes and livelihoods to families too afraid to return to their homes after the violence of recent years IDPs remain among the most vulnerable population in the country.

After the trauma of violence and displacement, families in the camps continue to rely on the safe, supportive and nurturing environment in the camp to start rebuilding their lives. But with charitable funding drying up, many camp facilities, especially health care centres, are facing imminent closure.

Dana Gas and Crescent Petroleum, which have contributed considerably to causes within Iraq, remain committed to AMAR’s services in Khanke, delivering vital health and wellbeing services to the thousands of residents at the camp.

Crescent, one of the Middle East’s oldest and largest upstream oil companies, and Dana, one of the largest private-sector natural gas companies in the region, are committed to helping AMAR deliver vaccinations, antenatal care and child health monitoring at the camp.

IDPs are among the most vulnerable people in Iraq, but sadly they are often overlooked by donors,” said Majid Jafar, CEO of Crescent Petroleum. “We are proud to be partnering with AMAR to provide critical healthcare services and training to the people in Khanke camp.

A key part of the health programme at the camp are the Woman Health Volunteers (WHVs), who are the front line to identifying health and wellbeing issues among the residents and are trained to deliver health care when needed. Between April and June of this year, the WHVs made thousands of home visits to families at the camp, providing basic healthcare services and delivering health advice, in addition to providing mental health outreach. In all, the WHVs offered support and services to more than 15,000 people during the spring period.

One AMAR WHV, Thikra, for example, recently paid a visit to the Jamila family in the camp. One of the family’s sons had been showing distressing changes in behaviour, including fatigue, excessive sleep and weight gain. Thikra identified the signs of depression in the boy and confided in Mrs. Jamila to openly discuss her son’s symptoms. She then advised the mother to seek a medical assessment for boy’s the condition and set the family on the path to recovery.

Thikra’s work is funded by Dana and Crescent, and is emblematic of the kind of support the companies are funding and promoting in the community.

The companies also provide funds for vocational training programmes in the camps, including sewing and design, IT, and English lessons, providing residents the opportunity to develop skills that can boost their chances of finding employment or to set up their micro-business of their own.

Crescent Petroleum and Dana Gas are among the largest private foreign investors in Kurdistan. Their focus is on developing the region’s natural resources in sustainable way to deliver lasting benefits to local communities. Their US$1.1bn development of the Khor Mor gasfield provides the natural gas to power electricity plants in Erbil and Chamchamal, delivering 1,700 MW of electricity to over 4m people living in the region.

LPG Plant in Kor Mor

Patrick Allman-Ward, CEO of Dana Gas’, said:

“We are committed to developing resources in Kurdistan to provide power to communities and build the structures for inclusive growth, as well as to tackle the economic and social factors that are a barrier to this development. We look forward to strengthening our partnership with AMAR in the future so that we can continue working towards these goals across the region.”

Other projects Dana and Crescent have funded in Kurdistan include renovating and supplying schools, funding hospitals and providing potable water to villages.

Baroness Nicholson, AMAR’s Founder and Chairperson said:

“It is vital that we continue to provide healthcare and education in the camps, as people living there continue to experience extreme deprivation. Thanks to the exceptional generosity of Dana and Crescent, we are able to do this in Khanke. We are very grateful to them for giving us the opportunity to bring relief and support to communities in real need.”

(Source: AMAR)

By John Lee.

UAE-based Crescent Petroleum has signed the initial contracts to develop the oil fields of Gilabat-Qumar (in Diyala), Khashim Ahmer-Injana (in Diyala), and Khudher Al-Mai [Khider al-Mai] (in Basra and Muthana).

Mr. Abd Allah Al-Kadhi, the head of exploration and production in the company, said that production will start after three years.

The contracts will now be sent to the Cabinet to be ratified for final signature.

(Source: Ministry of Oil)

By Alessandro Bacci.

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

Iraq’s Fifth Licensing Round: Some Preliminary Considerations After the Auction

On the morning and afternoon of April 26, 2018, I participated in a petroleum scholar workshop organized in London by the Association of International Petroleum Negotiators (A.I.P.N.). There I gave the presentation “Current Trends Concerning Petroleum Service Contracts in the Middle East.”

I explained the difficulties that Iraq was experiencing with its technical service contracts (T.S.C.s) and that, exactly while we were discussing in London, Iraq was holding in Baghdad its fifth licensing round after the introduction of some amendments to its service contracts in the previous weeks. After the end of the workshop, I stopped in café where I started collecting information concerning the results of the licensing round.

Iraq’s fifth licensing round was related to the offering of 11 blocks. In specific, 10 onshore blocks located along the Iraqi borders with Kuwait and Iran, and 1 offshore block in the Persian Gulf waters. In the end, six blocks were awarded, while five of the exploration blocks did not receive any bids. So, what is a correct evaluation of this fifth licensing round? Probably, a balanced answer would be that Iraq’s fifth licensing round ‘on the day of the auction’ obtained a mixed result.

In fact, if, on the one side, it’s true that six blocks were awarded, on the other side, it’s also true that no major international oil company (I.O.C.) won any bids. Of the big names in the petroleum industry, Italy’s E.N.I. alone decided to participate and made two unsuccessful bids. U.A.E.-based Crescent Petroleum obtained three blocks, China’s Geo-Jade two blocks, and China’s United Energy Group one block.

One initial explanation for the mixed result might be that the Iraqi government had previously changed the date of the auction. Initially, the Ministry of Oil wanted to have the auction in June 2018, but, then, it moved the date of receiving the offers of the international qualified companies for the licensing round forward to April 15. At the same time, the Oil Ministry’s Petroleum Contracts and Licensing Directorate sent the document concerning the final form of the tender, the conditions of the tender, and the formula of the exploration, development, and production contract (E.D.P.C.) and of the development production contract (D.P.C.) only on April 13.

However, when the Oil Ministry realized that the I.O.C.s—fourteen companies had purchased the documents required to participate in the bid round—would have had only two days to study the new contracts and submitting an offer, it postponed the deadline for submitting an offer to April 25. Then, the Oil Ministry held the licensing round on April 26.  In any case, the time for studying the dossier relating to the 11 blocks was limited according to either deadline. On top of this, Iraq will hold its national elections on May 12, and, before committing to investing on a long-term basis in additional projects in Iraq, investors might want to know the results of the coming elections.

For sure, political reasons played a role for changing the date of the bid round. Until a few months ago, the official schedule required that the final contract and tender protocol be issued by the end of May 2018 and that the submission of bids and the awards occur in June 2018 (see also BACCI, A., Iraq’s Fifth Licensing Round, in Iraq Business News, Dec. 20, 2017). Honestly, because Iraq has not been investing in the development of the border fields for the last 50 years, it’s is difficult to see what would have been the economic loss for Iraq’s government if Iraq had organized the auction two months later, i.e., in June, as it had previously planned. Two months would not have been a stark difference for the government, but it would have been a consistent difference for the I.O.C.s, which might have studied more completely the offered blocks and the new contract.

So, politics played a role. In Iraq, 320 members out of the 329 members of the Parliament are elected through the open list form of party-list proportional representation—the remaining 9 seats are reserved for the minorities. Iraq’s 18 governorates act as the constituencies. The ten onshore offered blocks are in the following Iraqi governorates: Basra, Diyala, Wasit, and Missan. In total, in May, these four governorates will be responsible for the election of 60 seats, or more than 18% of the seats (Basra, 25; Diyala, 14; Missan, 10; and Wasit, 11). However, at the same time, these governorates are home to the majority of Iraq’s most important oil fields (in particular Basra Governorate). And, because in Iraq the economy is dominated by the petroleum sector, which provides about 90% of government revenues and 80% of foreign exchange earnings, it’s easy to understand the pivotal economic role played by these governorates.

Moving forward the development of the additional blocks located in the above-mentioned governorates to before the elections may indeed provide a political support to Oil Minister Jabar Ali al-Luaibi who is a member of the Victory Alliance, which is led by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. In practice, holding the fifth licensing round would be a sort of additional tool to increase the chances of victory for a specific political group in the affected areas, because this move shows that the present government is concerned with the economic development of the above-mentioned governorates. And considering Iraq’s present fragile political environment, this political move has a certain logic. Now, according to the schedule, the deals must be signed on May 10. If they are not approved by the present government, it will be the task of the new government to approve them.

Considering these political reasons, it’s difficult to say whether we can consider the fifth licensing round finished and not just a politically useful stopgap. In any case, what is surprising is that important amendments to the structure of the offered service contract have been carried out with limited input from the industry and the stakeholders. In fact, the basic truth of the petroleum industry is that if a contractor is able to generate a return exceeding its planned internal rate of return (I.R.R.) threshold, it will go ahead with its investment. If the planned return is less than the I.R.R. threshold, the contractor will not invest.

This problem stood out very clear in 2009 during Iraq’s first licensing round. The day of the auction the result was negative because the companies did not see any profitability in what was offered. In practice, only after a few months of additional negotiations, was the government able to transform a failed licensing round into a success. What happened at that time was that the average cash outlay was renegotiated so that the I.O.C.s could have an improved profitability. And in just a few months, Iraq could sign contracts for the Rumaila field, the Zubair field, the West Qurna 1 field, and the Maysan field.

Moreover, after the end of the fifth licensing round, the Ministry of Oil correctly affirmed that the lack of bids for five exploration blocks— Zurbatiya and Shihabi on the border with Iran, Jebal Sanam and Fao on the border with Kuwait, and the offshore block—was also linked to additional difficulties, which could have increased the costs for the contractors. In fact, some blocks cover former battlefields (Zurbatiya and Shihabi), some have an infrastructural gap, and the offshore block lacks complete data.

Crescent Petroleum, a subsidiary of the multinational conglomerate Crescent Enterprises, is the first and the largest private upstream oil and gas company in the Middle East. It has operations in the U.A.E. and in the Kurdistan Regional Government (K.R.G., a.k.a. Iraqi Kurdistan). In the U.A.E., the company operates the Sharjah onshore concession and the Sir Abu Nu’ayr concession, while in the K.R.G. it operates the Khor Mor and the Chemchemal gas fields. In addition, Crescent Petroleum is the founder and the largest shareholder in Dana Gas, which is the first and largest publicly listed private-sector natural gas company in the Middle East.

Geo-Jade Petroleum is an oil exploration and production company with operations in Kazakhstan and Russia. This company started its oil and gas investments only in 2010—before the company was involved exclusively in real estate. Today, it is independently operating six exploration blocks and three development blocks. United Energy Group (U.E.G.) is an oil and gas exploration company having projects in Pakistan and Indonesia. In 2017, U.E.G. had an annual production of more than 4 million tons. After the acquisition of BP Pakistan in 2011, the company has expanded its operations in the country, and, today, U.E.G. and United Energy Pakistan Limited (U.E.P., U.E.G.’s Pakistani subsidiary) are the largest foreign E&P company and investor in Pakistan.

With reference to the contracts, the Ministry of Oil has introduced some amendments that have changed the structure of Iraq’s service contracts. During the previous four licensing rounds, Iraq had used service contracts in which there was a per-barrel fee remuneration linked to an R-Factor. The amended contract is different in that it sets a link between oil prices and the remuneration given to the I.O.C.s. At the same time, it introduces a 25% royalty on gross production.

In practice, out of the overall revenue, first, the contractors will pay a 25% royalty on gross production, second, they will recover the incurred costs according to a specific formula, third, they will split the remaining part, i.e., the net revenue share, with the government according to the percentage established at the time of the bid round, and fourth, they will pay the 35% corporate income tax (C.I.T.) on their percentage of net revenue share. Moreover, the amended contract does not consider any longer oil byproducts (for instance liquified petroleum gas) as companies’ revenue.

The key to understanding the new contractual framework is Article 19 of both the exploration, development, and production contract (E.D.P.C.) and of the development and production contract (D.P.C.). Art. 19 explains that in any quarter, Iraq’s involved regional oil company (R.O.C.) shall be entitled to a royalty of twenty-five percent (25%) of the deemed revenue, which is the value of net production in barrels of oil equivalent. With reference to the petroleum costs, Art. 19.5 explains that

[i]n respect of Petroleum Costs, in any Lifting Quarter due and payable Petroleum Costs shall be paid to Contractor to the extent of the Percentage of Net Deemed Revenue. The Percentage of Net Deemed Revenue shall be determined by reference to SOMO’s [the contract here means the State Oil Marketing Organization or its successors] average OSP [official selling price] during the Spending Quarter and in accordance with the following formula:

Percentage of Net Deemed Revenue= (Average OSP / 50) * (70%) * Net Deemed Revenue

The said formula shall be applied throughout the Term, provided that where the average OSP is equal to or less than twenty-one point five US Dollars (US$ 21.50) per Barrel, the Percentage of Net Deemed Revenue shall be thirty percent (30%) of Net Deemed Revenue and where the average OSP is equal to or greater than fifty US Dollars (US$ 50.0) per Barrel, the Percentage of Net Deemed Revenue shall be seventy percent (70%) of Net Deemed Revenue.

The percentage of net deemed revenue means the available portion of net deemed revenue allocated for the payment of the petroleum costs. The net deemed revenue means deemed revenue less royalty.

Then, the contractor shall be entitled to a remuneration equal to the product of the remuneration percentage bid and the remaining net deemed revenue. The remuneration percentage bid means the percentage of the remaining net deemed revenue bid by the contractor. And the remaining net deemed revenue means the net deemed revenue that remains after the payment of the petroleum costs to the extent of the percentage of net deemed revenue.

And then, the contractor shall pay the corporate income tax at a percentage of thirty-five percent (35%) on the actually received remuneration generated from the implementation of the contract to the General Taxation Commission in accordance with the Law No.19 for year 2010.

These are the remuneration percentage bids according to the six awarded blocks:

  • Khashim Ahmer-Injana (gas, Diyala Governorate): 19.99%, Crescent Petroleum
  • Naft Khana (oil and gas, Diyala Governorate): 14.67%, Geo-Jade
  • Khider al-Mai (oil, Basra Governorate): 13.75%, Crescent Petroleum
  • Gilabat-Qumar (gas, Diyala Governorate): 9.21%, Crescent Petroleum
  • Huwaiza (oil, Missan Governorate): 7.15%, Geo-Jade
  • Sindabad (oil, Basra Governorate): 4.55%, United Energy Group

A first consideration is that the percentage of the remuneration varies consistently according to the considered block. However, this should not be surprising because these blocks might well, for instance, have different geological characteristics. In fact, already with the technical service contracts used in the first four licensing rounds, the per-barrel fee was different according to each auctioned field. Now, with the new contract model, the Oil Ministry is trying to provide a fee that is based on commodity prices and costs.

At least on paper, the Oil Ministry should be able to give in this way more flexibility to its contracts. In fact, the three main factors that determine the amount of resource wealth linked to a petroleum field (oil and gas) are the produced volume; the price of the petroleum; and the involved exploration, development, and production costs. From an economic point of view, the best option for both the contractor and the government would be when the following three factors coexist: a high production level; low exploration, development, and production costs; and high oil prices in the international markets.

Thanks to the new contractual structure, the government would like to force the contractors to act in a more efficient manner, while at the same time, because the remuneration fee is based on the remuneration percentage bid, the contractor would now be affected positively by the increase and negatively by the decrease in oil prices. At the same time, the new contracts have a time limit concerning the requirement for the contractors to stop flaring. Iraq would like to stop completely flaring by 2021.

Iraq has currently a daily oil production of about 4.43 million barrels from Baghdad-controlled oil fields (March 2018). The country’s exports averaged 3.45 million barrels a day last month from the southern ports. According to a 5-year development plan, the government wants to reach a production of 6.5 million barrels per day by 2022.

Alessandro Bacci is an independent energy consultant in relation to business strategy and corporate diplomacy (policy, government, and public affairs). Much of his activity is linked to the MENA region, an area where he lived for four years. Alessandro is now based in London, United Kingdom (www.alessandrobacci.com), and he is a member of the Association of International Petroleum Negotiators (A.I.P.N.). A multilingual professional, Alessandro holds a Bachelor of Laws and Master of Laws from the University of Florence (Italy), a Master of Public Affairs from Sciences Po (France), and a Master in Public Policy from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (Singapore).