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)

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, inaugurated its new office In Sulaymaniya [Slemani] under the patronage of the First Lady of Iraq – Ms. Serbagh Saleh; and with the participation of the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Ms. Marta Ruedas; FAO Representative a.i. for Iraq Mr. René Verduijn; the Governor of Sulaymaniyah Dr. Hafal Abu Bakr; the Head of the Provincial Council Azad Mohammed Amin; and the Director General of Sulaymaniyah’s Directorate of Agriculture.

The meeting was addressed by the First Lady who thanked FAO for its leading and effective role in combating famine and securing food around the world and in Iraq. She also highlighted the importance of promoting bio-diversity in the region.

Also speaking at the ceremony, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Ms. Ruedas, said that, “the inauguration of the new FAO Office symbolizes the interest of the UN to support the people of Sulaymaniya in achieving long-term, sustainable development.”

“It also shows the importance of investing in the Agriculture and Water Sectors, but we should be reminded to also reduce the water pollution the sector generates,” she added.

On his part, the FAO Resident Representative, a.i., Mr. Verduijn, expressed his gratitude to the First Lady for her contribution to promoting bio-diversity, in particular her work as a co-founder of the Kurdistan Botanical Foundation that is committed to establish a gene/ seed bank in Sulaymaniya and her efforts as an activist in defense of women’s rights.

“FAO in Iraq is keen on promoting agriculture to help achieve economic growth, a stable society, food and nutrition security for all and improving bio-diversity. We feel strongly towards supporting Iraq in face of the numerous challenges it faces in terms of agriculture and water through promoting Good Agriculture Practices and improving smallholder farmers’ livelihoods”, said Mr. Verduijn.

The new office comes at a significant moment as the country moves away from emergency towards more development to provide structural support to the sub-sectors, and people’s livelihoods.

The new UN office is located within the Directorate of Agriculture in Sulaymaniyah. In April, FAO celebrated its 40th anniversary of the establishment of FAO in Iraq in 1979. Assistance has targeted a wide range of sub-sectors, including crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry, and has proved to be successful in supporting agricultural research and extension institutes over years of stability, sanctions and conflict. The inauguration of the new office is another landmark in the organization’s efforts to reinforce its technical programs for the benefit of the people of Iraq.

(Source: UN)

(Picture credit: Diyar Muhammed)

Stephen Whyte, Chairman of Genel Energy, gave the following update on the business at the Company’s Annual General Meeting, held in London on Thursday:

Genel had a very successful 2018, with free cash flow generation of $164 million even while making significant investment in growth.

2019 has seen us continue this success. We are delivering year-on-year production growth, we have made portfolio additions that perfectly complement our existing asset base, and our cash position continues to strengthen.

Genel is participating in 20 wells this year, the most of any IOC in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (‘KRI’). Drilling on the Tawke and Peshkabir fields is ongoing, with activity ramping up as we progress through 2019. Year to date production from the Tawke PSC is currently c.126,800 bopd, with Peshkabir driving impressive growth compared to the prior year’s period.

The drilling programme at Taq Taq has now delivered three successful wells, and year to date production is currently c.13,300 bopd, an increase from the 2018 average of 12,350 bopd. We are continuing to achieve successful results from the flanks of the field, and are drilling ahead at pace.

Total Genel working interest production across all assets is 37,600 bopd, running slightly ahead of our expected 10% increase in year-on-year production.

Even as we invest to deliver this production increase we continue to improve our cash position, generating almost $50 million in free cash flow in the first four months of the year. We expect to keep up this impressive run rate. Our current expectation is that we will generate well over $100 million in free cash flow over the course of 2019, prior to the payment of the dividend, even after increasing expenditure on our growth opportunities.

The results at Peshkabir show the significant success that can be obtained from our low-cost, rapid return operations in the KRI. While investing to increase production from 12,000 bopd to 55,000 bopd over the course of the year, Genel still generated $50 million of free cash flow from the asset. This level of return is hard to match anywhere else in the world, and illustrates why we continue to look for further opportunities in the KRI.

Put simply, the KRI is a very good place in which to operate. Payments have been made on a monthly basis for over three and a half years now, the political situation continues to improve – with Baghdad having made budget payments to the Kurdistan Regional Government for over a year – and the low-cost of operations helping to set a breakeven oil price at an asset level of $20/bbl.

We are still looking to diversify the portfolio, but we will not ignore further opportunities in the KRI – and indeed continue to focus on these where our presence on the ground and regional expertise mean we can maximise their value potential for shareholders.

In that context, as you are probably aware by now, we were delighted to add Sarta and Qara Dagh to the portfolio. They tick all of the boxes, as we partner with Chevron on assets that offer a mixture of near-term production and long-term growth potential.

Sarta is expected to enter production in the middle of 2020, and we will develop the field utilising a similar strategy to the one that was so successful (and cash-generative) at Peshkabir. While we do not want to get ahead of ourselves there are hydrocarbons throughout the structure in all of the typical KRI reservoirs, from the Tertiary down to the Triassic.

We are focused on building an even stronger business with material growth potential, providing a clear and compelling investment case that offers the opportunity for a significant increase in shareholder value. As we prioritise that growth, we have also initiated a material and sustainable dividend, providing investors with a compelling mix of growth and returns.

I am delighted that Bill Higgs is now sitting alongside me as CEO, and that Esa Ikaheimonen, our CFO, has also joined the Board.

On a personal level, the transition that I was keen to oversee is now complete. As such I have decided that this will be my last AGM as Chairman of Genel, and I will leave the Company for new challenges once a suitable successor has been identified. When I joined the Board two years ago the share price was under 80p, production was declining, Genel had unpaid oil receivables of over $400 million and $142 million in net debt.

Genel’s production and net cash position is now rising, the portfolio is positioned to provide material organic growth, and Genel now has the right team to deliver that growth. Management has a wealth of experience in the sector, experience that can also be utilised to make further value-accretive portfolio additions and optimise our growing cash pile to generate value for shareholders.”

Genel will announce results for the six months ending 30 June 2019 on Tuesday 6 August 2019.

(Source: Genel Energy)

TTE Technical Institute has secured a new project with international energy and water company TAQA to provide technical training to Middle East based technicians.

A group of 13 technicians from TAQA’s Atrush Block oil production facility in the Kurdistan region of Iraq are spending three months in the UK at TTE’s fully-equipped training centre in Middlesbrough to develop practical engineering competencies to achieve internationally-recognised qualifications.

The project is also supporting TAQA’s development of women technicians in the Kurdistan region with one member of the group a female process technician.

Within the group are three technicians working towards Level Performing Engineering Operations (PEO) Level 2 in mechanical engineering and three technicians aiming to achieve the PEO Electrical & Instrumentation Level 2 standard.

The seven remaining technicians are working towards the Process Industry Operations Level 2 qualification. Once completed, all of the qualifications allow for continual development to achieve Level 3.

Working with TTE’s internationally-experienced trainers, the technicians will utilise the training centre’s industry-standard facilities and equipment undertaking a programme of practical, hands-on modules and assessments.

TTE has an established reputation for providing on-site skills and competency assessments for international companies such as TAQA, which is headquartered in Abu Dhabi operating in 11 countries across four continents.

This is one of the first significant contracts TTE has secured since it became a Technical Institute earlier this year.  Marking its 30th year in operation, becoming TTE Technical Institute supports its strategy to increase the export of its services to international markets.

Technical Institutes are globally-acknowledged as centres of vocational training, providing learners with skills, competencies and qualifications to enter or advance a career in industry, which is in keeping with TTE’s existing, comprehensive provision.

Contracts such as this also support the training of young people in the North East of England. As a charitable, not-for-profit social enterprise, TTE gift-aids the surplus revenues generated from its commercial training to support the funding of training for apprentices and young learners from schools and colleges in the North East.

Steve Grant, Managing Director of the TTE Technical Institute, said: “We are very proud to establish this new relationship with such a globally-recognised company as TAQA to support the development of its workforce.  This is the another group we have welcomed to TTE from Kurdistan, further extending the reach of the organisation into international markets.

“Exporting our expertise to areas of the world such as West Africa, the Middle East and Asia plays an important role in the training of young people in the North East through the gift-aiding of commercial surpluses into our charity. Increasing our presence in key international markets and securing important projects with companies such as TAQA will generate more opportunities for local young people.”

(Source: TTE)

DNO, as operator of the Tawke field in Iraqi Kurdistan, has today issued an update on licence activity.

Gross production from the Tawke licence, containing the Tawke and Peshkabir fields, averaged 126,759 bopd during the first quarter of 2019.

Tawke production currently averages c.73,000 bopd, and Peshkabir c.54,000 bopd. There is an active 2019 drilling campaign underway at the Tawke and Peshkabir fields, with a total of up to four Peshkabir wells and up to 14 Tawke wells.

The Peshkabir-9 well was completed and placed on production during the first quarter. The Peshkabir-10 well was spud in February and will come onstream shortly. The Peshkabir-11 well will spud later this month. Peshkabir production averaged 53,830 bopd during the first quarter.

Peshkabir has now generated $1 billion in gross revenue, or four times the total spend to date.

At the Tawke field, the Tawke-52 Cretaceous well was completed and placed on production during the quarter. The Tawke-54 Cretaceous well was spud in February and came onstream in mid-April, and the Tawke-55 Cretaceous well spud in April. Tawke field production averaged 72,929 bopd during the first quarter.

(Source: Genel Energy)

DNO ASA, the Norwegian oil and gas operator, today reported USD 35 million in first quarter 2019 operating revenues from its newly acquired North Sea assets, bringing the total quarterly figure across the portfolio to USD 204 million.

The Company generated a net profit of USD 51 million and exited the quarter with a cash balance of USD 254 million plus USD 109 million in treasury shares and marketable securities.

Company Working Interest (CWI) production averaged 107,600 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) during the first quarter, up 36 percent from 79,100 boepd in the first quarter of 2018. Kurdistan contributed 89,400 barrels of oil per day (bopd) and the North Sea contributed 18,200 boepd.

Operated Kurdistan production from the Tawke and Peshkabir fields averaged 126,800 bopd during the quarter, up from 109,400 in the first quarter of 2018.

The Company plans to more than double capital and exploration expenditures to USD 440 million this year, up from USD 200 million last year. Planned 2019 expenditure in Kurdistan is USD 250 million and USD 190 million in the North Sea.

DNO has launched an active drilling program of up to 36 wells across the portfolio, representing the highest number of wells in the Company’s 48-year history.

DNO’s Executive Chairman, Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani (pictured), said:

“With our recent acquisition, DNO has transformed into a more balanced company. We continue to generate significant cash from ultra-low cost, short-cycle, highly prolific fields in Kurdistan but now with a strong, second leg in the North Sea.”

(Source: DNO)

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)

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

It has been six months since Baghdad formed its new government, and no major political crises have arisen. For Iraq, this is unheard of. This could be the result of the president, prime minister and parliament speaker working in harmony.

But as summer approaches, so do three potential problems: Basra’s urgent need for a reliable source of electricity, a growing opposition bloc in parliament and Baghdad’s contentious relations with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

Many political pundits predict a tough summer ahead, one similar to last summer and its deadly unrest in Basra, when demonstrations erupted over the pitiful lack of basic services such as water and electricity, and many government and political party headquarters in the city were burned down.

Click here to read the full story.

(Picture credit: Christian Lindgren)

By John Lee.

The US government has reportedly launched a $5 million-program for airport security in Iraq.

Kurdistan 24 quotes US Chargé d’Affaires Joey Hood as saying:

“Airports are gateways to the world. This cooperative program will not only improve passenger safety for the Iraqi people, but will bolster Iraq’s ability to attract foreign investors, expand global trade linkages, and encourage economic growth.”

The program will provide training and equipment in close coordination with experts at the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA).

The ICAA, Baghdad International Airport, Basrah International Airport, and Erbil International Airport have already met to discuss implementation of the program.

(Source: Kurdistan 24)

By John Lee.

The Turkish charter company Freebird Airlines will reportedly offer flights from Eindhoven Airport in the Netherlands to Erbil and Sulaymaniya throughout the summer.

According to Eindhoven News, flights depart once a week from April to October.

(Source: Eindhoven News)