By Michael Knights, for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Kadhimi’s Rolling Reshuffle (Part 2): Protecting Iraq’s Economic Institutions and Borders

On September 14, Baghdad announced a range of strategic leadership appointments for institutions tasked with overseeing Iraq’s economy, borders, and anti-corruption efforts-a list that includes banks, customs authorities, airports, seaports, land crossings, municipal bodies, investigative committees, and more.

The ambitious scope of the appointments and the centralized manner in which they were made says a great deal about Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s commitment to changing the corrosive status quo in Baghdad.

The question now is whether his government can withstand the coming pushback from militia and political elements who benefit from that status quo. The following is a digest of the new technocratic appointments and their implications; see Part 1 of this PolicyWatch for a discussion of Kadhimi’s recent military reshuffling.

Click here to read the full article, which includes details of the new appointments.

The post Details of PM’s New Appointments to Key Institutions first appeared on Iraq Business News.

By Michael Knights, for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Kadhimi’s Rolling Reshuffle (Part 2): Protecting Iraq’s Economic Institutions and Borders

On September 14, Baghdad announced a range of strategic leadership appointments for institutions tasked with overseeing Iraq’s economy, borders, and anti-corruption efforts-a list that includes banks, customs authorities, airports, seaports, land crossings, municipal bodies, investigative committees, and more.

The ambitious scope of the appointments and the centralized manner in which they were made says a great deal about Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s commitment to changing the corrosive status quo in Baghdad.

The question now is whether his government can withstand the coming pushback from militia and political elements who benefit from that status quo. The following is a digest of the new technocratic appointments and their implications; see Part 1 of this PolicyWatch for a discussion of Kadhimi’s recent military reshuffling.

Click here to read the full article, which includes details of the new appointments.

The post Details of PM’s New Appointments to Key Institutions first appeared on Iraq Business News.

By John Lee.

French container transportation and shipping company CMA CGM, has announced the first closing of its agreement with China Merchants Port (CMP), with the sale of its stakes in eight port terminals to Terminal Link. Among the facilities involved is the Umm Qasr Terminal in Iraq.

The Terminal Link joint venture was created in 2013 and is 51% owned by CMA CGM and 49% by CMP.

In line with the terms and conditions of the agreement announced on 20th December 2019 this first transaction represents a total all-cash consideration of USD 815 million. It will enable Terminal Link to expand its geographic footprint and global network, thereby enhancing its business development prospects.

This initial disposal includes the following terminals:

  • Odessa Terminal (Ukraine)
  • CMA CGM PSA Lion Terminal (CPLT), Singapore
  • Kingston Freeport Terminal (Jamaica)
  • Rotterdam World Gateway (Netherlands)
  • Qingdao Qianwan United Advance Container Terminal (China)
  • Vietnam International Container Terminal, Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam)
  • Laem Chabang International Terminal (Thailand)
  • Umm Qasr Terminal (Iraq)

The sale of the last two terminals covered by the agreement between CMA CGM and CMP should be completed by the end of first-half 2020 for an all-cash consideration over USD 150 million, pending approval by the competent regulatory agencies.

With this transaction, CMA CGM is proceeding with the delivery of its USD 2.1 billion liquidity plan announced on 25th November 2019. This plan among others reduces CMA CGM consolidated debt by more than USD 1.3 billion by the end of first-half 2020 and allows to extend certain financing facilities maturing during the year.

The CMA CGM Group strengthens its balance sheet amidst the high uncertainty created by the global Covid-19 health crisis. While the crisis has had a limited impact in the first quarter of 2020, the Group expects a decline in volumes, particularly outbound to Europe and the United States.

On this occasion, Rodolphe Saadé, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the CMA CGM Group, states:

“This transaction, announced on the 20th of December 2019, is an important step in its 2.1 billion USD liquidity plan and will allow us to strengthen our balance sheet. Amid the high uncertainty created by the COVID-19 health crisis, the closing of this transaction as previously announced demonstrates the resilience of the CMA CGM Group.”

(Source: CMA CGM)

A 29 MW gas-fuelled power plant supplied by the technology group Wärtsilä to the Umm Qasr Ports Authority Zone in Basra, Iraq, commenced commercial operations in February. The plant ensures availability of a reliable supply of electricity to the port’s operations, which had previously been subject to frequent power interruptions.

The Wärtsilä plant was ordered in October 2018 by Lebanon-based Butec, the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) provider for the project. Butec was contracted by Prime Metro Power Holdings (PMPH), the company having a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the General Company for the Ports of Iraq, an Iraqi Ministry of Transport entity.

Wärtsilä delivered the plant on a fast-track basis, and the project was completed in an exceptionally short period of time, despite delays caused by the ongoing political situation in the country.

Guillaume Lucci, President and COO of PMPH, said:

We have been able to leverage the local natural gas resources to develop a first class, state-of-the-art power plant facility that adds a vital power generation infrastructure and services to the state of Iraq. The completion of this project in less than one year is a significant milestone in our strategy to quickly develop the needed power infrastructure.

“We are pleased to have worked with Wärtsilä on this project, and we are certain that the quality and performance of the engine will be an asset over the lifecycle of the plant.

Alexandre Eykerman, Energy Business Director, Middle East, Wärtsilä Energy Business, said:

“The fast-starting, flexible operation of the Wärtsilä engines was a decisive consideration in the award of this contract. The plant can run fewer engines when less power is demanded and start the additional engines only when and as needed. This provides a cost-effective, efficient, and highly reliable solution that will greatly enhance the port’s operations.”

The Umm Qasr plant operates on three Wärtsilä 34SG gas engines, which deliver reliable baseload power on a 24/7 basis. Wärtsilä has also signed a maintenance agreement, the scope of which includes field service, and engine maintenance planning based on remote monitoring and asset diagnostics. For this, the plant is already connected to the Wärtsilä Digital Expertise Centre located in Dubai.

In addition to providing cost predictability, the agreement ensures the safety, reliability, and efficiency of the plant’s operations. Wärtsilä will have technical advisors stationed on site for mutually agreed periods of time to supervise the plant’s performance.

This is the first phase of an overall power supply project that will be expanded to increase the availability of electricity throughout the region. It represents Wärtsilä’s first gas-fired power plant in Iraq.

(Source: Wärtsilä)

By John Lee.

Protesters in Iraq have reportedly blocked the country’s second-largest commercial port on Tuesday.

According to Fox News, they halted operations at the Khor al-Zubair port as oil tankers and other trucks were unable to enter or exit.

They have also obstructed access to Umm Qasr port.

(Source: Fox News)

International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) has formally inaugurated two new berths which for the first time offer the port of Umm Qasr, Iraq’s main dry cargo port, the ability to handle container vessels of up to 14,000TEU.

The inauguration ceremony marked both the opening for business of the two new berths, Berths 25 and 26, and the completion of ICTSI’s overall USD250 million investment programme at its Basra Gateway Terminal (BGT).

Located in Umm Qasr’s North Port, BGT operates a high capacity container terminal together with specialised facilities for the handling of general cargo, ro-ro, dry bulk and project cargo for the oil and gas sector.

Earlier development included the construction of Berth 27, adjacent to the new berths, with the three berths now offering a combined continuous berth length of 600m. Design depth alongside Berths 25 and 26 is 14 meters.

The two new berths are extensively fitted out with state-of-the-art container handling equipment and I.T. systems. Three new quayside gantry cranes, each with an outreach of 56 meters and able to handle up to 21 rows of containers on the deck of a vessel, are installed on the quayside. On the landside seven new, six high stacking, rubber-tired gantries (RTGs) join three existing units bringing the total fleet to 10 RTGs.

A number of senior government officials attended the inauguration ceremony including Dr. Safaa Al-Fayyadh, Director General of the General Company for Ports of Iraq (GCPI) and Chief Atheal Abid Ali Salman, North Port Director, Umm Qasr, together with Enrique K. Razon, Chairman & President, ICTSI. Speaking at the time Mr Razon underlined:

“ICTSI’s completion of our multi-phase USD250 million investment programme highlights our commitment to Iraq and our readiness to meet the challenge of providing much needed, brand new, port infrastructure and handling technology. We are pleased,” he continued, “to lead the way for Umm Qasr to serve higher capacity container vessels, up to and including the so-called ‘New Panamax’ class (14,000TEU), and as  a result to open the door for cargo importers and exporters to benefit from substantial scale economies.”

BGT already receives direct calls from a number of shipping lines but traditionally these vessels have not been fully utilized due to draft limitations. The latest berth development removes this limitation plus encourages other shipping lines to introduce larger vessels with the resulting cost and efficiency benefits passing directly to cargo owners.

BGT has also undertaken, as part of its investment programme, a range of works that provided value-added services in addition to the core container handling and storage processes. Dedicated areas for reefer handling, export container stuffing and secure truck parking have been developed and currently a 10-hectare yard expansion is underway to cater for future growth.

Outside of the container sector BGT has also implemented significant investment into the terminal complex’s ro-ro facilities with this including dedicated warehousing and secure areas. Similarly, specialised handling services and facilities have been established to accommodate the efficient handling of project cargo for the oil and gas sector including secure open storage and warehousing.

Phillip Marsham, Chief Executive Officer, BGT said on the occasion of the inauguration:

“This is the start of a new era in Iraq’s Port industry. As Iraq’s economy continues to grow, it is imperative to create the necessary port capacity for the future. ICTSI is proud to lead the way in this field and to be the No 1 private sector investor in new port capacity supporting economic growth in Iraq.”

(Source: ICTSI)

By John Lee.

Shares in Philippines-based International Terminal Container Services Inc. (ICTSI), which operates the Basra Gateway Terminal (BGT) (pictured) at the port of Umm Qasr, have closed up more than 6 percent on Wednesday following a strong set of results.

The company said in a statement:

“Net income attributable to equity holders of US$128.5 million grew by 42 percent compared to the US$90.2 million earned in the same period last year mainly due to improved operating income contribution from the terminals in Iraq, Australia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Subic in the Philippines.”

(Source: ICTSI)