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

Protesters have reportedly attempted to burn down the Iranian consulates in both of Iraq’s holy cities, Najaf and Karbala, over the past month, with the consulate in Najaf torched twice in a single week.

The attacks in Najaf took place Nov. 27 and Dec. 1, two days after the Iraqi prime minister offered to resign following Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s Friday sermon in the city.

Protesters in Najaf also attacked the shrine of late Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, who was assassinated in 2003 after he returned to Iraq following two decades in Iran.

On Nov. 3, protesters attempted to burn down Karbala’s Iranian Consulate after a similar incident in Basra late last year.

Click here to read the full story.

Cabinet approves measures to expedite completion of investment projects

The Cabinet held its regular weekly meeting in Baghdad on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Adil Abd Al-Mahdi.

The Prime Minister briefed the Cabinet on national developments, and underscored that, during this period, ministries and other state institutions will continue to discharge their day-to-day duties and serve citizens.

The Cabinet:

  • discussed recommendations submitted by the Ministerial Economic Council on halting, until further notice, the imports of agricultural produce in which Iraq is self-sufficient.
  • agreed measures to expedite the completion of investment projects across Iraq, and approved a number of exemptions from applicable regulations to enable ministries, public bodies and local authorities to avoid delays to projects.
  • accepted the recommendation of the Ministerial Energy Council and authorised the Ministry of Electricity to sign an amendment to the original contract with China Machinery Engineering Company (CMEC) to complete the 2X630MW Thermal Power Plant Project in Salahuddin Province, and instructed the Ministry of Finance to support the implementation of this project.
  • issued instructions and guidance on the installation of CCTV cameras in commercial outlets, malls, shops, and other facilities.

(Source: Iraqi Govt)

Gazprom Neft subsidiary Gazprom Neft Middle East B.V. has produced its three-millionth tonne of oil since starting commercial production at the Sarqala field in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).

Total cumulative production at the Sarqala field has reached three million tonnes, or 23 million barrels of oil, as at December 2019. Daily liquid hydrocarbon production at this asset is currently running at 4,000 tonnes of oil, or 30,500 barrels, per day.

First oil was obtained at the Garmian block (which the Sarqala field is part of) in 2011, with commercial crude shipments commencing in 2015, following the commissioning of the Sarqala-1 well. A second well was commissioned in 2018, with a third due to come online in 2019.

Surface facilities and infrastructure have been significantly expanded in the course of developing this field. Final works on expanding the central processing facility (CPF) are expected to be completed by end-2019 — production throughput having reached 35,000 barrels per day (bpd).

Concurrently with this, the pipeline processing system has been updated, and the production-process automated control system modernised. Formation-water utilisation infrastructure (with throughput capacity of 5,000 bpd) is to be built at the Sarqala field in the near future.

Sergei Petrov, CEO of Gazprom Neft Middle East B.V., said:

“Our work at the Garmian block has allowed us to compile detailed information on the geological structure of the Sarqala field — allowing us not just to develop the asset effectively, but also identify potential for its future development. Preparations are now underway on drilling a further well. Commissioning this will allow us to maintain hydrocarbon production volumes in the KRI.”

(Source: Gazprom Neft)

Following the announcement of 16 May 2019, in which it was stated that Steve Whyte (pictured), Chairman of Genel Energy, would not be standing for re-election at the 2020 Annual General Meeting, the Company announces that Steve has now resigned with immediate effect.

George Rose, Senior Independent Non-Executive Director, will act as interim Chairman until the ongoing search for a permanent Chairman is completed.

George Rose, interim Chairman of Genel, said:

When Steve joined Genel the Company had net debt of almost $150 million and unpaid oil receivables of over $400 million. He was a driving force behind the Receivable Settlement Agreement, which has transformed Genel’s financial position. We now have a stronger portfolio with exciting growth options and the right team to deliver them.

“Our highly cash generative oil production more than funds this growth, with sufficient cash left over to pay a material and progressive dividend. I would like to thank Steve for his efforts at Genel and look forward to seeing his future successes.”

(Source: Genel Energy)

By John Lee.

The United Nations has advertised new positions in Iraq:

(Source: UN)

(Picture: Finger pressing a new career start button, from Olivier Le Moal/Shutterstock)

By John Lee.

The United Nations has advertised new positions in Iraqi Kurdistan:

(Source: UN)

(Picture: Success, growth, career, development signpost from 3D_Creation/Shutterstock)

Top Mountain and USAID open Business Incubator and Training Center in Erbil

Top Mountain, in partnership with USAID, held a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the Business Incubator and Employment Program’s first training center.

This will be the first of four facilities that Top Mountain will open over the next two months, with three additional training centers planned for Ninevah.  The Erbil Training Center will enable Top Mountain to deliver training, events, and mentorship focused on career development and entrepreneurship for displaced people from Ninevah who are living in Erbil.

The event was attended by the U.S. Deputy Consul General, Elisabeth Rosenstock-Siller, and USAID’s Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for the Middle East, Hallam Ferguson, as well as community leaders, academics, international donors, and NGOs that are currently working in Ninevah.

During his remarks, Mr. Ferguson mentioned that this is the first time since re-establishing its presence in Iraq 16 years ago that USAID has partnered directly with local organizations. “We are very excited to be working with local groups because it’s Iraqis that play the most important role in improving their country,” he said.

USAID is the world’s premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results.  USAID has funded Top Mountain’s program under the New Partnership Initiative (NPI), which aims to build the capacity of local organizations and assist populations in Iraq recovering from the genocide perpetrated by ISIS.

Top Mountain is a consulting firm based in Iraq that focuses on stabilization, economic development, and promoting employment and entrepreneurship.  The Business Incubator and Employment Program is aligned with Top Mountain’s mission to support economic development and stability in Iraq.

(Source: Top Mountain)

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.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi announced Nov. 29 that he would officially submit his resignation to parliament, in the first government response to the wide public protests that have been sweeping through Iraq for two months.

Former judge and legal expert Ali al-Tamimi explained to Al-Monitor the legal and constitutional steps that will follow Abdul Mahdi’s resignation announcement.

“The president accepts the resignation under Article 18 of the Cabinet system, which considers the whole government resigned with all its ministers,” he said.

Click here to read the full article.

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.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi announced Nov. 29 that he would officially submit his resignation to parliament, in the first government response to the wide public protests that have been sweeping through Iraq for two months.

Former judge and legal expert Ali al-Tamimi explained to Al-Monitor the legal and constitutional steps that will follow Abdul Mahdi’s resignation announcement.

“The president accepts the resignation under Article 18 of the Cabinet system, which considers the whole government resigned with all its ministers,” he said.

Click here to read the full article.

By Ali Al-Mawlawi (pictured).

Is the Decentralisation Process in Iraq being Reversed?

There have been growing signs in Iraq since summer 2018 that the process of devolving powers to local governments is being rolled back – and for justifiable reasons, many would argue.

Parliament’s most recent decision to suspend all provincial councils is arguably the most flagrant attempt to curtail the role of sub-national authorities and raises questions about where the decentralisation process is headed.

Click here to read the full report from the London School of Economics.