KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani received Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Gebran Bassil, Minister of State for Combating Corruption Nicolas Tueni, and their accompanying delegation.

In the meeting, also attended by Kurdistan Regional Government ministers and senior officials, they discussed the political situation in Iraq including the post-election process, and the formation of the new Iraqi government and new Kurdistan Regional Government cabinet.

Minister Bassil thanked the Kurdistan Regional Government for its assistance and support to the Lebanese community. He emphasized the desire of Lebanon to strengthen relations with the Kurdistan Region, especially in the fields of investment, trade, tourism and culture.

Prime Minister Barzani reaffirmed the KRG’s support to Lebanese businessmen and investors. He praised the activities of the Lebanese community in the Kurdistan Region.

The political situation in the wider region was also discussed.

(Source: KRG)

Cash-for-Work project in Halabja paves a safer and easier road to school for local children

42 host community members, IDPs and refugees employed to restore roads and walkways that will enable safe access to schools and markets for families in Halabja.

To neighbours in the communities of Azadi and Sirwan, in northern Iraq, paved roads mean much more than improved accessibility for cars. Once loose dust and rock, the road network connecting homes and markets posed a hazard for children during the regions season of heavy rainfall.

“They had to put those plastic bags and boots which was especially difficult for the kids to go to school,” described 15-year-old Shahad, an IDP from Baghdad.

“Especially in this area in winter we have a high rate of rainfall. And the land here was agricultural land before – so when it rains, it becomes mud, also posing health-hazards for pedestrians,” added Mr. Omed Noori Hama-Salih, Supervising Engineer, Municipality of Sirwan Subdistrict.

UNDP’s Iraq Crisis Response and Resilience Programme (ICRRP) recently supported a project that would enable the Governorate of Halabja to restore this essential basic service.

Following the launch in September, 42 individuals (host community members, internally displaced people (IDPs) and refugees) received temporary employment opportunities to work on the project as engineers, labourers and administrative support.

This project is one of 28 that were made possible with generous funding from the Federal Government of Germany, supporting the construction and restoration of critical services such as sewerage, electricity, water and roads for some 680,000 people across the Sulaimaniyah & Halabja Governorates and Raparin & Garmiyan Administrations, in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

In Azadi and Sirwan, IDPs, refugees and host community members are working together to improve the road and walkway networks for the benefit of all 1,500 community members. “In the past years, this was muddy and all children could not go to school easily and people could not go to do their services and visit market, but now when it will be paved of course it will ease our lives,” said Mr. Othman Aziz, a resident since 1978. “We consider that we will be having a new life because then our kids can go to school easily and our families will have an easy and nice access road to go and run their daily lives.”

Since 2014, Halabja Governorate has become host to more than 653 refugees and 7,177 IDPs, leaving their homes to find safety and security. Today, the pressure to ensure the provision of basic infrastructure and services is intensified by severe financial crisis, ultimately affecting the quality of life in the region for the host communities, as well as the IDPs and refugees they host.

In Azadi and Sirwan, IDPs, refugees and host community members are working together to improve the road and walkway networks for the benefit of all 1,500 community members. “In the past years, this was muddy and all children could not go to school easily and people could not go to do their services and visit market, but now when it will be paved of course it will ease our lives,” said Mr. Othman Aziz, a resident since 1978.

“We consider that we will be having a new life because then our kids can go to school easily and our families will have an easy and nice access road to go and run their daily lives.”

Since 2014, Halabja Governorate has become host to more than 653 refugees and 7,177 IDPs, leaving their homes to find safety and security. Today, the pressure to ensure the provision of basic infrastructure and services is intensified by severe financial crisis, ultimately affecting the quality of life in the region for the host communities, as well as the IDPs and refugees they host.

(Source: UNDP)

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

Intel: How the Barzanis are looking to consolidate power in Iraqi Kurdistan

Iraqi Kurdistan’s dominant clan announced today that it was nominating Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani to succeed his uncle Massoud Barzani as president of the Kurdistan Regional Government. A spokesman for the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) added that Massoud Barzani’s son, Masrour Barzani, the head of the Kurdistan Region Security Council, had been nominated to take over as prime minister.

The post of the presidency has remained vacant since Massoud Barzani stepped down following the ill-fated referendum on Kurdish independence in September 2017. But the elder Barzani continues to rule from behind the scenes.

Click here to read the full story.

Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani received the UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Iraq Baroness Emma Harriet Nicholson, UK Ambassador to Iraq Jon Wilks, and UK Consul-General to the Kurdistan Region Martyn Warr.

Baroness Nicholson welcomed the progress made in the dialogue between the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad to settle outstanding issues.

She also expressed her country’s desire to encourage British investors to invest in the Kurdistan Region, contribute to economic development of the Kurdistan Region and Iraq, and share expertise in modernizing various sectors.

Prime Minister Barzani thanked the United Kingdom for its humanitarian and military assistance to the Kurdistan Region.

He highlighted the relations between Kurdistan and Baghdad, and affirmed that the KRG supports the new Iraqi Prime Minister, Mr. Adil Abdul Mahdi in restoring security and political stability of Iraq and developing its economy.

(Source: KRG)

Over seven million square meters in areas liberated from ISIS cleared of explosives

The Iraqi Kurdistan Mine Action Agency (IKMAA) has cleared 7,414,199 square meters in areas liberated from ISIS of explosive devices and difused 43,057 IEDs and UXO pieces, said Siraj Barzani, Head of IKMAA, in an interview with the Kurdistan Regional Government website.

From the 2014 ISIS onslaught until October 2017, three IKMAA units in Duhok, Erbil, and Germiyan, in cooperation with Peshmerga forces, started their plan to clear contaminated areas and raise public awareness of explosive devices.

Mr. Barzani said that poisonous chlorine gas bottles stockpiled by ISIS were also deactivated by an IKMMA team with the assistance and supervision of a special chemical weapons team from the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs and Ministry of Interior.

According to Mr. Barzani:

“IKMMA teams in liberated areas faced a variety of impediments, including fragile security, logistical issues, unsatisfactory information about areas and risks, pressure to hastily clear contaminated areas.”

With financial assistance from foreign governments, international NGOs – MAG, FSD, Handicap International, NPA, DDG, Sterling – participated in these clearing operations.

According to IKMMA, in 1991, 776 square kilometers of the Kurdistan Region were contaminated with landmines and unexploded ordnance, UXO, laid by former Iraqi regime forces, which has since decreased to 270 square kilometers, a reduction of 65 percent.

According to Mr. Barzani:

“From 1991 until October 2018, there have been 13,233 victims of landmines and other explosive devices. Today, there are fewer victims due to clearance operations and increased public awareness.’’

(Source: KRG)

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)

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)

ShaMaran Petroleum Corporation refers to the agreement announced on June 4, 2018 whereby the Company’s wholly owned subsidiary, General Exploration Partners, Inc. (“GEP”), agreed in a sale and purchase agreement (the “SPA”) with Marathon Oil KDV B.V. (“MOKDV”) ,a wholly owned subsidiary of Marathon Oil Corporation (“Marathon”), to acquire from MOKDV a further 15% working interest in the Atrush Block Production Sharing Contract in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (“the Acquisition”).

The underlying agreements governing the development and operation of the Atrush block require that both the Minister of Natural Resources of the Kurdistan Governmental Authority (“MNR”) as well as TAQA Atrush BV (“TAQA”), the other owner of a participating interest in, and the operator of, the Atrush block, consent to the assignment of the participating interest from MOKDV to GEP. At the time, the MNR gave assurance of providing its consent to the assignment, however, TAQA unreasonably refused to provide its consent to the Acquisition.

As a result of TAQA’s unreasonable refusal to provide consent, Marathon re-issued an offer to acquire MOKDV, a corporate transaction which does not require TAQA consent, with the result being that the Company is now engaged in a new bidding process for the Marathon interest in the Atrush block. There is no assurance that any offer by the Company or GEP, if submitted, will result in the acquisition of the increased interest in the Atrush block.

In the meantime, the Company is reviewing all available options.

(Source: ShaMaran)

By John Lee.

Baghdad has reached an agreement with Kurdish authorities to resume exports from the Kirkuk oilfields, via the Turkish port of Ceyhan (pictured).

In a statement on Friday, the Ministry of Oil said between 50,000 and 100,000 barrels per day would be exported through the pipeline on behalf of the Baghdad-controlled State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO).

S&P Global Platts says SOMO has not exported any crude oil from Ceyhan since June 2017.

(Sources: Ministry of Oil, S&P Global Platts)

By John Lee.

Companies are reportedly relocating from the Kurdistan Region to rest of Iraq in an effort to avoid taxes and customs duties which the Iraqi government charges on goods exported to southern Iraq.

According to Kurdish media network Rudaw, the Baghdad government considers goods produced in Iraqi Kurdistan to be foreign, and subject to import duties.

Mustafah Zubeir, of the KRG Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Directorate General of Industrial Development, is quoted as saying that about 100 factories have left Kurdistan for Baghdad to avoid this issue.

More here.

(Source: Rudaw)