WFP supports Iraq in modernising its Public Distribution System

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Government of Iraq have launched an initiative to digitise the national public distribution system (PDS).

The first phase of digitisation will reach nearly 1.3 million people in and around Baghdad and Dohuk.

The PDS is Iraq’s biggest social safety net, providing food entitlements to almost the entire population in Iraq of 39 million people.

WFP is providing technical support to the government as it starts using identification technology and a citizen database to reduce processing time, improve service and maximise resources.

“The initiative guarantees the most efficient use of government resources and ensures that the intended citizens receive their food entitlement,” said WFP Country Director and Representative in Iraq Sally Haydock at the launch in Baghdad. “We’re using digitisation to better serve Iraqi citizens through this key social safety net.”

With WFP’s support, the government will move to a digitised system where citizens’ data is safely encrypted and stored, and where security is enhanced using fingerprints or iris scans. This will allow the government to identify and remove duplicate records as well as conduct biometric verification at the time of food collection. The new system replaces the current paper-based system.

WFP is also designing a mobile application, myPDS, that people can use to collect their entitlements as well as to update their family information about births, deaths and marriages – at their convenience, using personal smartphones.

“The ministry is working on updating data as we put in place technology-based solutions that address people’s needs,” said the Iraqi Minister of Trade Mohammed Hashem Al-Ani.

WFP is partnering on the initiative with the Iraqi Ministry of Trade. Modernising the PDS is one of the priorities of Iraq’s National Poverty Reduction Strategy (2018 – 2022). WFP’s partnership with the ministry dates to the early 1990s when WFP established a database for the PDS.

(Source: WFP)

On Wednesday 12th December, the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) was pleased to host a first meeting between the British Chambers of Commerce and Chamber of Commerce & Industry representatives from the Kurdish Region of Iraq.

Erbil Chamber of Commerce is a founding member of IBBC and the IBBC is now the affiliate Chamber for Iraq of the British Chambers of Commerce.

Liam Smyth, International director represented the British Chambers.

Dr Dara Al Khayat, Chairman Erbil Chamber and Chairman of the Kurdish Federation of Chambers of Commerce & Industry was joined by the Chairmen of Sulaimani and Dohuk Chamber of Commerce.

The work of all the Chambers was discussed and in particular areas where the KRG requested UK involvement was identified.  Apart from oil and gas and utilities there was much discussion about the agricultural and food processing potential of the region. In addition mining, tech and textiles were also put forward as sectors which foreign investment would be most welcome.

Both sides looked forward to continuing engagement with each other to mutual benefit.

(Source: IBBC)

By John Lee.

Rosneft has reportedly sent a delegation to Duhok to discuss starting work on three oilfields next month.

According to the report from Rudaw, the state-controlled Russian company will work at three locations: Batle, Zawita, and in Sarsang and Chamanke in Amedi.

It is expected to extract 180,000 barrels of oil per day.

In October, Rosneft signed Production Sharing Agreements (PSA) with respect to five production blocks in Iraqi Kurdistan.

More here.

(Source: Rudaw)

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) Human Rights Office (HRO) organized a training course in Dohuk for human rights activists and staff members of NGOs working in the field of human rights in Dohuk Governorate.

The training course, entitled “Strengthening Human Rights Monitoring and Documentation Skills,” was part of a series of activities the HRO is running to support civil society organizations and regional institutions for protecting and promoting human rights in the Kurdistan Region.

The training course focused on deepening participants’ understanding on key principles, legal frameworks and core skills including fact-finding missions, interviewing, and report-writing. Sessions were provided by United Nations human rights professionals.

Representatives of 25 NGOs (10 women and 15 men) from Dohuk city and surrounding areas participated in the training.

Mr. Zito Siany, the Human Rights Officer of HRO, stated that the training is part of the HRO program aimed supporting the NGOs in Dohuk and other KR districts to build their staff members’ capacities in monitoring and documenting violations of human rights.

Participant Twana Othman, from the National Center for Human Rights (NCHR), noted that the training assisted him in acquiring knowledge about human rights monitoring principles along with his involvement in prison monitoring and holding interviews with detainees.

Mr. Othman further explained:

“Through this training I have learned the appropriate methods of preparing for and conducting interviews with the victims and have gained substantial knowledge regarding the state’s obligations towards the ratified international human rights treaties, and how to make the best use of United Nations Human Rights Conventional and Unconventional Mechanisms to protect and promote human rights.”

(Source: UN)

(Picture: Human rights, from igorstevanovic/Shutterstock)

By John Lee.

Oil production at the Atrush block is expected to start “around late June to August“, according to a report from Rudaw.

The pipeline (pictured) from the oilfield, in Kurdistan’s Duhok governorate, is reported to be nearing completion, with initial production expected to be about 30,000 bpd.

The website of the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (Taqa), which paid $600 million four years ago for an initial stake of just more than 53 percent in the project, states that it is estimated to have between 1.5 billion and 2.8 billion barrels of oil in place with recoverable oil columns of 670 million barrels.

(Source: Rudaw)

By John Lee.

Genel Energy has issued the following trading and operations update in advance of the Company’s full-year 2016 results, which are scheduled for release on 30 March 2017.

In the statement (see below), the company said it expects a significant drop in production in 2017. Share were trading down 11 percent on Tuesday.

The information shown below has not been audited and may be subject to further review:

Murat Özgül, Chief Executive of Genel, said:

“2016 was a major step forward for the monetisation of oil exports from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. We received $207 million in cash proceeds for oil sales and receivable recovery. These payments in turn allowed for work programmes to resume at Taq Taq and Tawke. The KRG has confirmed that payments will continue, allowing us to plan with confidence for 2017.”

 2016 PRODUCTION AND CURRENT PERFORMANCE

  • 2016 net production averaged 53,300 bopd. Production and sales by field for 2016 were as follows:

  • During 2016, Taq Taq natural field declines were partially offset by the three development sidetracks drilled and completed during the year. Taq Taq has averaged 35,300 bopd in January 2017 to date. A total of 18 wells are currently producing, with five of these wells accounting for c.80% of field production. Taq Taq field water production is currently 12,500 bopd, representing a water cut of 27%, significantly less than total water handling capacity of 55,000 bopd
  • Good progress is being made on the updated Field Development Plan and Competent Person’s Report for Taq Taq. Both are on track for completion in Q1 2017
  • At Tawke, the 2016 development programme helped offset natural well decline at the field. Tawke has averaged 113,900 bopd in January 2017 to date
  • Net production to Genel from Taq Taq and Tawke has averaged 44,000 bopd in January 2017 to date

FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE

  • $207 million cash proceeds (pre capacity building payments) were received in 2016, of which:
    • $153 million against 2016 sales
    • $24 million relates to the January 2016 payment for December 2015 sales
    • $30 million relates to the recovery of historical receivables
  • A total of $210 million was invoiced for 2016 sales, with almost all of the difference between this figure and the $153 million above representing amounts owed by the Kurdistan Regional Government (‘KRG’) for Q4 2016
  • In January 2017 the Tawke partners received a payment of $39 million related to October 2016 exports. Genel’s share of this amount is not included in end-2016 unrestricted cash balances
  • Capital expenditure for 2016 totalled $61 million, below the $90-110 million guidance range, as previously communicated
  • Similar to the process which occurred at the start of 2016, the Company is currently in discussions with the KRG regarding the pricing mechanism for crude sales from Taq Taq and Tawke, as well as the proxy formula used by the KRG to calculate payments for current sales from Taq Taq and Tawke
  • The carrying value of the receivable for unpaid production will be tested for impairment as part of the end-2016 results process, taking into account the latest views on historical netbacks, timing of recovery, future oil prices, and the production outlook at Taq Taq and Tawke
  • Unrestricted cash balances at 31 December 2016 stood at $408 million ($405 million at 30 September 2016)
  • Net debt at 31 December 2016 stood at $240 million ($241 million at 30 September 2016)

2017 ACTIVITY

Kurdistan Region of Iraq

  • KRI oil production assets
    • At Taq Taq (Genel 44% working interest, joint operator), the firm 2017 work programme consists of a workover of the TT-07z well and a new appraisal well, TT-29, in the north of the field. Both activities will be undertaken by a 1,500 bhp rig which is expected to be on location in February 2017. Additional activity, including further Cretaceous sidetracks, Cretaceous and Pilaspi development wells and installation of Electric Submersible Pumps in existing wells is contingent on regular and predictable export payments from the KRG for Taq Taq sales as well as partner approval. The Company expects production from the Taq Taq field to average 24-31,000 bopd in 2017
    • At Tawke (Genel 25% working interest), the operator DNO ASA expects production from the field to remain stable at the current rate of 115,000 bopd in 2017, based on expected investment levels
  • KRI gas assets (Miran 75% operated interest and Bina Bawi 80% operated interest)
    • The pre-FEED and upstream Gas Development Plan studies for the Miran and Bina Bawi gas fields are expected to complete shortly
    • Firm 2017 activity is expected to be largely technical and commercial in nature, with a strategy to enhance the value of the KRI gas project. In the event of a successful farm-out, contingent activity could take the form of the environmental and social impact assessment and FEED for the gas treatment and processing facilities, as well as extended well tests and further 3D seismic on the Bina Bawi licence
    • Discussions are ongoing with the KRG relating to the finalisation of the PSC amendments and gas lifting agreement. Efforts are also continuing in order to bring in partners to the KRI gas assets through a farm-down of the Miran and Bina Bawi licences
    • At end-2015, the carrying value of the Miran and Bina Bawi fields in the Company’s accounts was $1,427 million. The carrying value of the Miran and Bina Bawi fields will be tested for impairment as part of the end-2016 results process. Taking into account the latest views on discount rates and financing options, amongst other factors, management expects to record a material impairment of the carrying value in its 2016 accounts
  • KRI exploration and appraisal
    • As announced on 9 January 2017, the Peshkabir-2 well on the Tawke PSC flowed 3,800 bopd of 28° API oil from Cretaceous reservoirs in the southern flank of the Peshkabir field. The well, currently drilling ahead of schedule and under budget, is expected to reach total depth of 3,500 metres and will be completed, following evaluation of the Jurassic, by early February. The Tawke partners are considering a number of options to step up the appraisal of the new discovery, as well as the potential for early Peshkabir production via the existing Tawke facilities
    • In January 2017, the Company signed a Sales and Purchase Agreement to transfer its 40% interest in the Chia Surkh licence to its partner, Petoil, subject to approval by the Ministry of Natural Resources. Petoil will pay Genel an initial consideration of $2 million, and an additional $25 million in staged payments contingent on future crude oil production from the Chia Surkh licence. Genel will recognise an impairment of the Chia Surkh carrying value of $198 million in its 2016 accounts
    • The Company has formally relinquished its 40% interest in the Dohuk licence. The relinquishment of the 40% operated interest in the Ber Bahr licence is awaiting final approval from the KRG

Africa

  • The Company is currently in discussions with the Moroccan government over the nature, scope, and timing of the activity related to the maximum future exploration commitment of c.$30 million
  • Onshore Somaliland, the acquisition of 2D seismic data on the Odewayne (Genel 50%, operator) and SL-10B/13 (Genel 75%, operator) blocks is due to commence by March 2017. The data will be acquired as part of a Somaliland government owned speculative 2D seismic acquisition project, with the Company purchasing the associated data from the government

2017 OUTLOOK AND GUIDANCE

  • Company production guidance for 2017 is set at 35-43,000 bopd. This assumes the delivery of the Taq Taq work programme as stated above and a prudent level of contingency with respect to the Tawke operator’s current 2017 production expectation. The work programmes at Taq Taq and Tawke are subject to change depending on the results of development drilling and payments from the KRG for current sales and receivable recovery
  • Capital expenditure, net to Genel, at the Taq Taq and Tawke fields in 2017 is forecast at $50-75 million. Expenditure on the KRI gas business is estimated at $10 million. Capex on the 2017 Africa exploration programme is estimated at $40 million, which includes the c.$30 million Morocco exploration expense mentioned above
  • 2017 operating expenditure, net to Genel, at the Taq Taq and Tawke fields is estimated at $30-35 million

(Source: Genel Energy)

Archeologists from the Institute for Ancient Near Eastern Studies (IANES) at the University of Tübingen in Germany have uncovered a large Bronze Age city not far from the town of Dohuk in northern Iraq.

The excavation work has demonstrated that the settlement, which is now home to the small Kurdish village of Bassetki in the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan, was established in about 3000 BC and was able to flourish for more than 1200 years.

The archeologists also discovered settlement layers dating from the Akkadian Empire period (2340-2200 BC), which is regarded as the first world empire in human history.

Scientists headed by Professor Peter Pfälzner from the University of Tübingen and Dr. Hasan Qasim from the Directorate of Antiquities in Dohuk conducted the excavation work in Bassetki between August and October 2016. As a result, they were able to preempt the construction work on a highway on this land. The former significance of the settlement can be seen from the finds discovered during the excavation work.

The city already had a wall running around the upper part of the town from approx. 2700 BC onwards in order to protect its residents from invaders. Large stone structures were erected there in about 1800 BC. The researchers also found fragments of Assyrian cuneiform tablets dating from about 1300 BC, which suggested the existence of a temple dedicated to the Mesopotamian weather god Adad on this site.

There was a lower town about one kilometer long outside the city center. Using geomagnetic resistance measurements, the archeologists discovered indications of an extensive road network, various residential districts, grand houses and a kind of palatial building dating from the Bronze Age. The residents buried their dead at a cemetery outside the city. The settlement was connected to the neighboring regions of Mesopotamia and Anatolia via an overland roadway dating from about 1800 BC.

The Governorate of Duhok launched its Provincial Development Strategy 2016-2018 in a ceremony organized in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the European Union (EU), and NOREL non-governmental organization.

Conceptualized with the support of UNDP’s EU funded Local Area Development Programme (LADP), the Strategy seeks progress in six areas: Multi-sector economy, geographical location, governmental services, investment environment, administrative and financial efficiency, and human resources.

Introducing the Strategy, Governor of Duhok, Mr. Farhad Amin Atroshi, underscored:

“Citizens of Duhok deserve the highest social and economic welfare levels and a governance system that invests resources efficiently. We are strongly committed to achieve this through the Provincial Development Strategy that was tailored to address the needs and aspirations of Duhok and its people.”

The Head of the EU Liaison Office in Erbil, Mr. Patrick Geysen, noted:

“The EU is investing in development of the Kurdistan Region which has suffered for more than three decades of instability, sanctions, invasions and conflict. Promoting good governance, we have no doubt that the Provincial Strategy will be a success in Duhok.”

The Provincial Strategy launch was marked with a two-day exhibition, Made in Duhok, that featured the richness of the region through traditional crafts, arts works and variety of hand made products, produced by Syrian refugees, internally displaced people (IDPs), and host communities.

The Federal Republic of Germany has donated EUR 4 million to IOM Iraq to support its “Strengthening Community Policing in Iraq” project between March 2016 and December 2017.

By supporting community policing in Iraq, IOM enhances overall efforts to advance democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Iraq in liberated areas. Community-policing models promote mediation and negotiation to resolve conflicts and build trust between the community and the police.

The Community Police Project includes training on community policing principles, establishing Community Police Forums, and encouraging dialogue between civil society and law enforcement agencies.

In 2015, a total of 16 Community Policing Forums were established across six governorates in southern, central and northern Iraq, engaging over 500 community members, 80 police officers, more than 80 government officials and 70 civil society members.

The project will reinforce these efforts by strengthening the capacity of the Community Police in Iraq and increasing the capacity of communities and civil society to engage in constructive dialogue on security issues.

The project will enhance the existing community police infrastructure and provide needed equipment to improve police access to communities in liberated areas, but also in central and southern Iraq.

The training component will target law enforcement personnel, as well as representatives of internally displaced Iraqi communities, to facilitate the work of the community police, particularly in areas of return.

The American University of Duhok has been officially opened in a ceremony held on Tuesday.

The ceremony was attended by Kurdistan Region President, Masoud Barzani, Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, Chancellor of Kurdistan Region Security Council and Honorary President of the American University of Duhok, Masrour Barzani, a number of foreign diplomatic representatives and KRG and Iraqi ministers and political parties’ representatives.

Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said:

“Opening a university during this challenging period is the right message to our enemies that no matter how hard they try, they will not be able to stop our path to prosperity and growth. It is also a sign that the love of our people for life, development, and building a brighter future cannot be eliminated by difficulties facing our region.”

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Stuart Jones, accompanied by U.S. Consul General for Erbil Matthias Mitman, reiterated U.S. support for higher education in Iraq, specifically noting the University Linkages Program, which currently connects over a dozen Iraqi and American universities, with another fifteen partnerships planned for this year.

(Sources: KRG, U.S. Department of State)