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)

By Dana Taib Menmy for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Masrour Barzani presented his new Cabinet July 10, vowing to institute reforms and reinvigorate the semi-autonomous government in Erbil, Iraq.

Three main parties in Iraqi Kurdistan were able to reach an understanding on their ministerial nominations to finally form the new government: the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Gorran (Change) movement.

Parliament now has confirmed 21 ministers for the Cabinet, though the controversial post of the natural resources minister remains vacant.

Click here to read the full story.

The Al-Bayan Center for Planning and Studies has just published a new report from our Expert Blogger Ahmed Tabaqchali:

The current debate over the interpretation of the 2019 budget that governs the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) share of the federal budget in return for contributing 250,000 bbl/d to federal oil exports has echoes of the first conflict in April 2012 on the issue.

The adept quote above by the International Crisis Group (ICC), in its description of the relationship between the two sides leading to that conflict, is as applicable today as it was then, and over the many repeats of similar conflicts in the intervening years.

The current flare up is initiated by members of the federal parliament against the Government of Iraq (GoI) over its continuing payments to the KRG, under the terms of the 2019 budget, while the KRG has not or refused to honour its obligations under the terms of the same budget.

The internal and external dynamics of the players on both sides, the federal politicians and the regional Kurdish politicians, follow the same trajectory that led to countless struggles over this issue and others since 2003. Each side is not only blind and deaf to the other side’s needs and motives but views it with suspicion and mistrust.

Unless something breaks the mould, either an intervention by Iraq’s international stakeholders or a change in the balance of relative power between the two, both will continue to think and act in the same manner that each had acted in the past, while still expecting a different outcome for the conflict or a different response form the other side.

Read Ahmed Tabaqchali’s full report here.

By John Lee.

Gulf Keystone Petroleum (GKP) has announced its intention to commence a share buyback programme, using the company’s existing cash resources to make market purchases of Gulf Keystone common shares for a maximum consideration of US$25 million, with the first stage of that programme being initiated now to purchase Gulf Keystone shares for an initial amount of US$15 million.  

The buyback programme is aligned with the company’s focus on capital allocation and will be an accretive use of funds whilst not impacting the company’s ability to continue the execution of its existing investment programme.  It will be executed in accordance with the company’s general authorities to make on market purchases which was approved by shareholders at the company’s AGM on 21 June 2019.

The company has entered into an agreement with its brokers Canaccord Genuity Limited and Peel Hunt LLP to carry out purchases of the Initial Amount under the buyback programme on its behalf on an irrevocable and non-discretionary basis.

(Source: GKP)

By John Lee.

A major hackathon weekend is planned to take place in Slemani (Sulaymaniyah) on the weekend of 8th to 10th August.

HackaSuly describes itself as “the largest international hackathon in Iraq that brings the coding community together over a weekend to work in teams and turn their ideas into technological solutions“.

More here.

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

President Nechirvan Barzani of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) left Erbil for the first time since taking office and headed to the Iraqi capital on June 20 to discuss several outstanding issues with the central government, especially KRG oil exports, the public budget and the situation in the disputed city of Kirkuk.

After meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, Barzani said they agreed to resolve outstanding issues based on the constitution and to convene a joint committee next week to negotiate oil, the budget, the peshmerga forces and Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution, concerning a census in Kirkuk.

The most important issues addressed during the visit were Kurdish oil and KRG salaries. Baghdad has not yet received its share of KRG oil in about six months, but the federal Ministry of Finance continues to deliver salaries to KRG employees.

Click here to read the full story.

Shares in Gulf Keystone Petroleum (GKP) closed Friday up 3.5 percent after the company issued the following operational and corporate update ahead of its AGM:

Operational

  • Workovers on SH-1 and SH-3 have now been completed, resulting in the anticipated material production uplift at both wells.  Production from SH-1 has increased by 105% to 7,800 bopd and SH-3 by 40% to 6,200 bopd.
  • The SH-12 well (formerly called SH-H) was spudded on 7 June with DQE’s Rig 40, signalling the commencement of the Company’s drilling campaign; a major milestone for Gulf Keystone.
  • The next well, forecasted to spud in Q4 2019, will be SH-9 which aims to assess the feasibility of gas reinjection into the Jurassic formation, rather than the originally planned Jurassic production well.
  • The workovers to install Electric Submersible Pumps (“ESP”) will take place in Q4 2019. 
  • As part of the 2019 work-programme, PF-1 was shut down on 10 June for planned maintenance and the installation of equipment required for the 55,000 bopd de-bottlenecking project. The facility is scheduled to be offline for approximately 15-20 days.
  • The installation of the PF-1 export pipeline infrastructure continues. The pipeline is now installed, and export pumps and the associated controls are currently being fitted.  The pipeline is expected to be operational in Q3 2019.
  • Average gross production of 29,993 barrels of oil per day (“bopd”) achieved to date in 2019 with production levels of 38,100 bopd attained prior to the PF-1 shut down.
  • Full year production guidance remains unchanged, although due to changes in the drilling schedule average gross production in 2019 is currently expected to be at the lower end of the 32,000 – 38,000 bopd guidance. 
  • As a result of the revised timeframe, the 55,000 bopd production target is now expected to be achieved in Q2 2020, as opposed to previous guidance of Q1 2020.

Corporate

  • At the request of the Ministry of Natural Resources (“MNR”), GKP and its partner MOL re-submitted a revised Field Development Plan (“FDP”) on 23 May 2019 to address additional MNR requests on gas management. The FDP is currently under review by the MNR.
  • Cash balance of $290 million as at 20 June 2019. The Company remains fully funded for all phases of the Shaikan expansion programme.
  • As part of the Company’s dividend policy, and subject to approval at today’s AGM, a $50 million dividend will be paid, comprising an ordinary annual dividend of $25 million and a special dividend of $25 million, to be paid in 2019.
  • The Company also intends to initiate a share repurchase programme subject to shareholder approval at today’s AGM.

Commenting, Jón Ferrier, CEO, said:

Operational activity has intensified and good progress is being made across all fronts of our Shaikan expansion programme, including investment into the 75,000 bopd expansion and the gas re-injection project. 

“We are pleased to have started the drilling campaign, in addition to seeing promising results with the workovers drilled at SH-1 and SH-3, both of which have increased in output significantly, and all of which serve to achieve our near term production targets. 

“Furthermore, we look forward to bringing our new export pipeline into service later in the year eliminating the need for trucking and reducing HSSE exposure.

(Source: GKP)

By Ahmed Mousa Jiyad.

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

2019 Budget Law: Politics of Appeasement, Non-Compliance and Extortion

Data from different sources indicates that KRG oil exports, so far in this year, ranged between 418.8 and 438 thousand barrels daily-kbd and KRG gross oil export revenues at end of May mounted to $3.681 billion.

Draft of the budget law was debated, amended and approved by the parliament; then endorsed by the President of the Republic and finally promulgated as a law when it was published on the official gazette. KRG, Kurdish politicians, parliamentarians and commentators praised the law as it favors them.

Yet, so far and as it officially confirmed by the Minister of Oil and the Prime Minister, KRG did not deliver a single barrel of oil; this is the usual KRG’ non-compliance extortion practice.

Such practice prompts a wave of criticisms and accusations against the Prime Minister, who is known for his appeasement towards KRG even at the expense of the rest of Iraq. KR leaders know too well how to exploit Prime Minister’s weaknesses and his lack of resolve and leadership; KRG succeeded so far.

Click here to download the full article in pdf format.

Mr Jiyad is an independent development consultant, scholar and Associate with the former Centre for Global Energy Studies (CGES), London. He was formerly a senior economist with the Iraq National Oil Company and Iraq’s Ministry of Oil, Chief Expert for the Council of Ministers, Director at the Ministry of Trade, and International Specialist with UN organizations in Uganda, Sudan and Jordan. He is now based in Norway (Email: mou-jiya(at)online.no, Skype ID: Ahmed Mousa Jiyad). Read more of Mr Jiyad’s biography here.

Rosneft’s money might help Iraqi Kurdistan meet its domestic gas demand, but it could also cripple its long-term export ambitions, according to an oil analyst.

In an opinion piece for Energy Reporters, Nick Augusteijn argues that Rosneft’s deals are vehicles for Russia’s “increasingly assertive foreign policy“.

Click here to read the full story.

(Source: Energy Reporters)

By John Lee.

Russia’s Rosneft will reportedly conduct geological exploration in Iraqi Kurdistan this year.

CEO Igor Sechin (pictured) is quoted as telling the annual general meeting:

“The company continues to implement the project to develop fields in Iraqi Kurdistan in the Middle East, where a geological exploration program is scheduled for this year to ensure production in the future.”

He added that pilot production at the Bijeel field began in the first quarter.

(Source: Tass)