By John Lee.

At its regular meeting in Baghdad on Tuesday, the Iraqi Cabinet received a briefing on negotiations led by Iraq’s Ministry of Oil with ExxonMobil and PetroChina on the Southern Iraq Integrated Project.

In a statement, the government describes the project as “a mega energy and infrastructure scheme consisting of building oil pipelines, storage facilities and a seawater supply project to inject water from the Gulf into reservoirs to increase oil production and Iraq’s export capacity.”

According to Reuters, Iraq is close to signing the $53-billion, 30-year agreement, from which it expects to make $400 billion over the life of the project.

It quotes the Prime Minister as saying that it will involve increasing production at the Nahr Bin Umar and Artawi oilfields from around 125,000 barrels per day (bpd) now to 500,000 bpd.

(Sources: Iraqi Cabinet, Reuters)

By John Lee.

President Barham Salih has highlighted the need to address the obstacles impeding the work of the private sector in Iraq.

Addressing a delegation from the Iraqi Federation of Chambers of Commerce at his Office in Baghdad, the President stressed the importance of enhancing the role of the private sector in reconstruction.

Mr. Abdul Razzaq al-Zuhairi, the Head of the Federation, said he valued the President’s support for the private sector.

(Source: Office of the Iraqi President)

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)

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) held Iraq’s first International Tech Conference in Baghdad at the Babylon Rotana Baghdad Hotel on 30 April, hosting government ministers, private industry, entrepreneurs, investors, and representatives from the leading UK and Iraq Tech companies.

The purpose of the Conference was to drive confidence, investment and awareness of the power of the new tech economy and how it can benefit Iraq.

The event – Iraq Tech Conference – was led by Ashley Goodall, IBBC’s Marketing Adviser. Keynote addresses were given by H.E. Dr Sami Al Araji, Chairman of the National Investment Commission and Mr Ashraf Al Dahan, Chairman of the CMC Board of Commissioners.

The agenda for the day comprised four panels: Consumer Tech panel, E-Government Panel, Business Fintech and a Consumer Fintech Panel.

Fintech in particular is making strides forward with the blessing of the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI), as Mr Waleed Eidi, Advisor to the Governor of the Central Bank, explained and encouraged the adoption of steps to include Women, those excluded from banking and the digital economy and young people.

The CBI is being ambitious in encouraging banks and financial institutions to modernise and offer new ways to distribute the flow of funds for investment and those who need it. This will also have a big impact on the overall economy and growth.

Ahmed Elkady of EY echoed the importance of Fintech as he led the Consumer FinTech Panel discussion onto technical infrastructure and what needs to happen to grow the opportunity for financial transactions. He was ably supported by National Bank of Iraq’s Eyad Mahmoud and Roger Abboud of Arab Payment Systems – who are modernising banking transactions – and Douglas Way of Almaseer Insurance – who are enabling business to reduce risks and transact insurance products rapidly and scalably.

The conference also embodied eight presentations:

  • “How technology is driving the business and consumer world in Iraq and Internationally” by Zain Iraq;
  • Online Literacy” by Dr Victoria Lindsay, Country Director – Iraq for the British Council;
  • Automating & digitising BP and Iraq” by Zaid Elyaseri, Country Manager-Iraq for BP;
  • Restrata Product Announcement” by Botan Osman, CEO for Restrata;
  • “Five One Labs” by Patricia Letayf, Co-Founder and Director of Operations for Five One Labs;
  • Blockchain and AI – The Future Talk” by Muhana Almrahleh, Director – Head of Information Technology Advisory for KPMG (Jordan); and,
  • How Re:Coded are Training the Next Generation of Technology Leaders in Iraq” by Zahra Shah, Country Manager-Iraq for Re:Coded.

Attendees were able to enjoy one-to-one meetings and conversations.

As part of the Tech Conference on April 30, IBBC hosted an Evening Reception for Entrepreneurs and Start-ups at The Station, Baghdad, the evening prior on 29 April. The evening, planned in partnership with Iraq Tech Ventures and Arabnet, showcased the growing tech community in the country and gave an outstanding platform for some of the leading start-ups and entrepreneurs in a more informal setting.

The participating start-ups pitched their business in 5 minutes to a panel of seven judges composed by: Mohammed Khudairi, Managing Partner of Khudairi Group and Founder of Iraq Tech Ventures; Hal Miran, CEO of MSelect and Founder of Bite.Tech and TechHub; Richard Greer, Venture Capital Investor in Asia, Middle East, & UK and Philanthropist in Northern Iraq; Zahra Shah, Iraq Country Manager for Re:Coded; Ali Ismail, Co-Founder of Fikraspace and Co-Founder & Partner of Solo Creative Studio; Patricia Letayf, Co-Founder and Director of Operations for Five One Labs and Maryam Allami, Advisor for Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

Through this first international Tech Conference in Iraq, IBBC aims to provide a foundation, a platform and focus for Tech in Iraq and give inspiration and confidence to those building a modern Iraq.

For more information on the Iraq Britain Business Council, visit our website at https://www.iraqbritainbusiness.org/

To contact IBBC for Interviews, registration and sponsorship please contact london@webuildiraq.org

(Source: IBBC)

By John Lee.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an unannounced visit to Iraq on Tuesday, meeting with Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi and senior officials.

The visit comes as Washington enforces sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.

A transcript of Secretary Pompeo’s press conference after the meeting can be read here.

(Source: US State Dept)

IMF Staff Completes 2019 Article IV Mission on Iraq

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team led by Gavin Gray visited Amman from April 26 to May 2, to hold discussions with the Iraqi authorities in the context of the 2019 Article IV Consultation.

At the end of the visit, Mr. Gray made the following statement:

“The end of the war with ISIS and a rebound in oil prices provide an opportunity to rebuild the country and address long-standing socio-economic needs. However, the challenges to achieving these objectives are formidable. The economic recovery has been sluggish, post-war reconstruction is limited, and large current spending increases risk placing the public finances and central bank reserves on an unsustainable path. Moreover, combatting corruption is critical to promote the effectiveness of public institutions and to support private-sector investment and job creation.

“Near-term vulnerabilities subsided in 2018, with the budget in surplus and a build-up in central bank reserves. Non-oil growth is expected to increase to 5.4 percent in 2019 on the back of higher investment spending. However, fiscal deficits are projected to rise over the medium term, requiring financing that may crowd out the private sector or erode central bank reserves. In these circumstances, it would be hard to sustain capital spending, and growth would slow markedly.

“Policy changes and structural reforms—including to improve governance—are therefore essential to maintain medium-term sustainability and lay the foundations for inclusive growth.

“Fiscal policy should aim to scale up public investment gradually while building fiscal buffers. To make space for this, staff recommends budgetary savings of around 9 percent of GDP over the medium term through tight control of current spending, particularly public-sector wages, and phased measures to boost non-oil revenue. Setting ceilings on current expenditure in the 2020 budget onwards would strengthen the fiscal framework’s capacity to support higher capital spending and to adapt to oil price shocks. Key reforms should include:

  • Containing public-sector wages. Spending pressures could be dampened in the short run through compensation measures such as capping allowances, bonuses and other non‑base wage payments, and by not fully replacing retirees. Structural measures will be required over the medium term, based on a functional workforce review as well as deeper civil service reform once new HR management and information systems are in place.
  • Electricity reforms are key to addressing the weak quality of service and reducing the high budgetary costs, due to modest tariff rates, chronic non-payment of electricity bills, poor maintenance and over-reliance on expensive generation sources, coupled with losses throughout the generation, transmission, and distribution process. It would be important to ensure that the poor and most vulnerable are protected throughout this reform.
  • Bolstering public financial management. Enhancing the legal framework and improving commitment and other control systems are key to minimizing misuse of public resources and restoring budgetary discipline.

“In the financial sector, a robust plan to restructure the large public banks coupled with enhanced supervision is essential to secure financial stability and will help promote financial development and inclusion. Strengthening anti-money laundering and countering financing terrorism (AML/CFT) controls and oversight will help prevent Iraq’s financial sector from being misused for the laundering of criminal proceeds and terrorist financing.

“Addressing governance weaknesses and corruption vulnerabilities is critical to achieving the described policy objectives. As a first step, the authorities need to develop a comprehensive understanding of the corruption risks present in Iraq and then implement policies to tackle these risks in a coherent and coordinated manner. The legislative framework needs to be strengthened to effectively prevent officials from abusing their position or misusing state resources. To this end, laws strengthening the asset declaration regime and criminalizing illicit gains should be rapidly adopted. Furthermore, the independence and integrity of bodies involved in combatting corruption should be ensured and the AML/CFT regime should be mobilized to support anti-corruption efforts.

The team will prepare a report that, subject to management approval, is tentatively scheduled to be considered by the IMF’s Executive Board in July 2019.

“The IMF team would like to thank the authorities for the candid and constructive discussions during this visit.”

(Source: IMF)

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)

2.5 Million Iraqis and Businesses to Benefit from Improved Electricity Services

A new US$200 million World Bank project will provide increased and more reliable supply of electricity to about 2.5 million Iraqis and productive enterprises in the governorates of Basra, Al-Muthanna, Thi Qar, and Missan who currently suffer from frequent and long power cuts and rely on private or shared generators to cover the shortages within the public network.

The Electricity Services Reconstruction and Enhancement Project, approved today by the World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors, will support the Government of Iraq’s efforts to improve the quality and reliability of electricity supply by reducing the capacity limitations in the electricity distribution and transmission network.

The project aims to support increased efficiency of electricity operations and management which is key to reducing the fiscal burden levied by the sector on Iraq’s budget, drawing resources away from other public sector needs such as reconstruction, health and education.

Saroj Kumar Jha, World Bank Mashreq Regional Director, said:

The lack of access to reliable power has a significant impact on household well-being, business growth, and the capacity of the enterprise sector to create sustainable jobs for the growing numbers of youth entering the job market.

“Improved electricity supply will support job creation, including enhancing women’s ability to engage in income generating activities. It will also promote economic diversification and allow enterprises to increase their productivity, thus fostering inclusive economic growth and shared prosperity for the population of Iraq South region”.

The project will support the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the electricity transmission and distribution grid including installation of new lines and power substations. In addition, the project will include installation of an Integrated Management Information Systems and customer call centers.

These activities will not only increase the network capacity to deliver electricity to the consumer premises, but will also support improvements in network operations efficiency and customer care such as reducing the duration of electricity outages, improving the accuracy in meter reading and billing records and fast response to electricity consumer concerns.

Paul Baringanire, World Bank Senior Energy Specialist and Project Team Leader, said:

Improved efficiency, transparency, and accountability of operations will not only improve the sector’s performance but also enhance the image and credibility of the sector institutions namely the Ministry of Electricity, the South Electricity Transmission Company, and the South Electricity Distribution Company with shareholders and electricity customers thus contributing to restoring citizen confidence and gaining support for sustained operations.”

(Source: World Bank)

The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) will set up a representative office in Iraq to facilitate activities by Iranian producers and constructors in the neighboring state.

The issue was discussed in a meeting between Iranian oil industry equipment producers and senior managers of the Iraqi Ministry of Oil on the sidelines of the 24th Iran Oil Show in the Iranian capital of Tehran on Friday (May 3).

The meeting was attended by Iraqi Deputy Oil Minister Mahmoud Abdul Amir Hashim, the NIOC director for support, construction and goods supply, Ramin Qalambor Dezfouli, and a number of oil equipment producers.

Speaking in the meeting, Qalambor Dezfouli said the gathering was aimed at providing Iranian constructors and producers with the opportunity to establish a closer connection with their Iraqi counterparts.

“We have been seeking to achieve this goal for about three years as Iranian producers and constructors are acting independently in Iraq. Currently, we aim to establish an NIOC representative office in Iraq to represent the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum in the country.”

He added, “We are seeking to work out solutions to enable Iranian producers and constructors to cooperate with Iraq’s private sector.”

Qalambor Dezfouli said the office will be responsible for connecting Iranian oil industry’s constructors and producers with the Iraqi Ministry of Oil.

“Given that Iranian constructors do not have international certificates and licenses, we are cooperating with the Iraqi Ministry of Oil to set up a mechanism through which those Iranian companies that are approved by the NIOC, receive approval from the Iraqi Ministry of Oil and, thus, be able to participate in the implementation of oil projects in the neighboring state.”

The 24th Iran International Oil, Gas and Petrochemical Exhibition (Iran Oil Show 2019) began on Wednesday (May 1) and will continue until May 4 (Saturday).

(Source: Shana)