By John Lee.

Oil production in the Al Faihaa area (Block 9) in Basra is reportedly expected to increase in the coming year with increasing investment.

Dragon Oil CEO Ali Al Jarwan told Oil & Gas Middle East that the company plans to increase production in Iraq to 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) by 2025.

(Source: Oil & Gas Middle East)

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)

By Padraig O’Hannelly.

For much of Iraq’s recent history, the trend has been for educated and talented Iraqis to leave the country, and for Iraq to use its oil revenues to import the expertise it needs.

But that’s changing; to at least some extent, the Iraqi diaspora is returning, innovative home-grown Iraqi businesses are being created, and some are even exporting their goods and services abroad.

One prime example is Arab Payment Services (APS), which I visited on a recent trip to Baghdad. Founded by Ziad Khalaf in 2013, the company now employs 100 people, many of them Iraqis who have returned from overseas with new skills and experience.

The company provides a range of banking-related services, including ATMs, point-of-sale (POS) devices, and payment processing. In this business, proper security is essential. General Manager Haider Alobaidi, who has been with the company from the start, explained:

“Our processes all comply with international standards, such as PCI DSS [Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard] — our reputation depends on flawless execution, so there is no room for error.”

In a country so reliant on cash, is there really a need for such a business? “Most definitely“, says Roger Abhoud, Advisor to the Chairman:

“The demographics are all in our favour. Forty million people, 83 percent of them without bank accounts, increasing by one million people each year — more and more of those people want access to the sorts of services that we can provide, and that trend can only continue. It’s a huge opportunity!”

His vision doesn’t end there. APS has just opened an office in Dubai, and plans to expand internationally.

This is a new and positive phenomenon for Iraq, and one that will provide welcome opportunities in the years ahead.

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)

Finnish technology group Wärtsilä has said it will supply the equipment to enable an efficient, reliable, and independent power source for an Iraqi cement producing plant.

The 20 MW engine power plant is being built by Al Shumookh Lucky Investments Ltd, a JV company of Lucky Cement Limited and a limited liability company registered in the United Arab Emirates. The power plant will serve the Najmat Al-Samawa cement factory in Iraq. The order with Wärtsilä was booked in Q1, 2019.

Wärtsilä has a long-established relationship with Lucky Cement Limited, one of Pakistan’s leading cement producers and exporters. The company has earlier built two power plants for Pakistan and one power plant for Iraq based on Wärtsilä Smart Power Generation technology.

Intisar Haqqi of Lucky Cement commented:

“It is important that large cement producers operate with maximum efficiency to reduce their operating costs. For this a reliable and price predictable supply of electricity, independent from the grid, is essential. We have always had excellent support from Wärtsilä, and their power generating technology provides the certainty of supply that is needed.”

Pierpaolo Mazza, Regional Director, Wärtsilä Energy Business, added:

“There is no greater endorsement of customer satisfaction than repeat orders. This is the seventh order received from Lucky Cement Limited, which indicates the success of Wärtsilä’s engine power plants in meeting our customers’ expectations, regardless of extreme climatic conditions.”

The power plant will operate on two Wärtsilä 32 engines running on locally available heavy fuel oil (HFO) with diesel as a back-up fuel. The engine is designed to deliver outstanding efficiency with reduced fuel and water consumption in hot temperatures.

The equipment is scheduled for delivery towards the end of 2019, and the plant is expected to become fully operational during the third quarter of 2020.

Image caption: From left to right: Arif Akram, Wärtsilä Energy Business; Muhammad Qasim Latif, Wärtsilä Energy Business; Pierpaolo Mazza, Wärtsilä Energy Business; Adnan Ahmed and Najam ul Hassan, Al Shumookh Lucky Investments Ltd

(Source: Wärtsilä)

By John Lee.

The Iraq Container Terminal (ICT) at Umm Qasr Port has reportedly handled container traffic of two million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) since operations started less than nine years ago.

According to Hellenic Shipping News, the joint venture between UAE-based Gulftainer and the General Company for Ports of Iraq (GCPI) started operations at Berth 8 in the South Port in August 2010, followed by Berth 11 in the North Port in 2012.

It adds that the ICT is equipped with two Mitsubishi ship-to-shore gantry cranes, supported by two Gottwald mobile harbour cranes with a 100 t lifting capacity, in addition to container-handling equipment including 18 reach stackers, two empty handlers and 28 terminal tractors; it currently employs 250 locals and 50 expatriates.

(Source: Hellenic Shipping News)

By John Lee.

Sharjah-based Dana Gas has announces that during Q1 2019, Pearl Petroleum has received $112 million (AED 411mm) from the sale of condensate, LPG and gas in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).

Dana Gas is a 35% shareholder in Pearl Petroleum and accordingly, its share of such receipts by Pearl Petroleum is $39 million (AED 143mm).

This presents a 117% increase compared to the Company’s Q1 2018 share of collections which stood at $18 million. As of today, Pearl Petroleum has no overdue receivables in the KRI.

Dr Patrick Allman-Ward, CEO of Dana Gas, said:

“We have had a very positive start to year in the KRI. Our debottlenecking project which we completed in October 2018 has increased our production output by 30% to 400 MMscf/d. We have begun to see the impact of the additional production on our Q1 collection, which has doubled.”

In February of this year, Pearl Petroleum signed a new 20-year Gas Sales Agreement (GSA) with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to enable production and sales of an additional 250 MMscf/d. The Consortium aims to bring this production on-stream by 2021 as part of their expansion plans to raise output from the current 400 MMscf/day to 650 MMscf/day in 2021, and then to 900 MMscf/day by 2022.

(Source: Dana Gas)

By John Lee.

Sharjah-based Dana Gas has announced that its average production for Q1 2019 has increased by 6% year-on-year to 68,700 boepd from 65,000 boepd in Q1 2018.

The first quarter production increase was led by the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), which leapt to 32,750 boepd in Q1 2019 from 26,300 boepd in Q1 2018.

This increase was principally due to additional production from the completed debottlenecking project that came on-stream in October 2018 and took gas production in the KRI from 300 MMscf/d to 400 MMscf/d, an increase of over 30%.

On a quarter by quarter comparison, Q1 2019 production grew by 5% from Q4 2018, reflecting the increase in production from the KRI and supported by having brought the Balsam-8 well in Egypt on-stream in Q4.

Dr Patrick Allman-Ward, CEO, Dana Gas, said:

The two major growth projects completed in 2018 – the debottlenecking project in the KRI and the Balsam-8 well in Egypt – have proven to be materially value accretive both operationally and financially. 

“Our production numbers are up 6% in the first quarter 2019 and we expect this increase in production to have a positive impact on the Company’s revenues since we are now realising gas sales in the KRI and we will be benefiting from the steady increase in oil prices since Q4 2018.

(Source: Dana Gas)

By John Lee.

Ride-sharing services Uber, from the United States, and Careem of Dubai, have reached an agreement for Uber to acquire Careem for $3.1 billion, consisting of $1.7 billion in convertible notes and $1.4 billion in cash. The acquisition of Careem is subject to applicable regulatory approvals. The transaction is expected to close in Q1 2020.

Uber will acquire all of Careem’s mobility, delivery, and payments businesses across the greater Middle East region, ranging from Morocco to Pakistan, with major markets including Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Upon closing, Careem will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Uber, preserving its brand. Careem co-founder and CEO Mudassir Sheikha will lead the Careem business, which will report to its own board made up of three representatives from Uber and two representatives from Careem. Careem and Uber will operate their respective regional services and independent brands.

Established in July 2012, Careem operates in 120 cities across 15 countries and has created more than one million economic opportunities in the region.

Careem entered the Iraqi market in January 2018.

(Source: Uber)

Pearl Petroleum Company Limited, the consortium led by Crescent Petroleum and Dana Gas of the UAE, has signed a new 20-year Gas Sales Agreement (GSA) with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to enable production and sales of an additional 250 MMscf/day that the consortium aims to produce by 2021 as part of their expansion plans in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) in order to boost much needed local domestic electricity generation.

Pursuant to the Settlement Agreement reached between the parties in August 2017, this new gas sales agreement was signed on 19th February 2019 by Dr. Ashti Hawrami, Minister of Natural Resources on behalf of the Kurdistan Regional Government, and Mr. Majid Jafar, CEO of Crescent Petroleum and Board Managing Director of Dana Gas, on behalf of Pearl Petroleum.

All approvals for the agreement, including by the the Kurdistan Region Council for Oil & Gas Affairs and the Board of Pearl Petroleum, have since been granted, with  project work now under implementation.

The Kurdistan Gas Project was established in 2007 as Dana Gas and Crescent Petroleum entered into agreement with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) for certain 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 just 15 months later, in October 2008. 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.

The $700 million expansion underway at the Khor Mor plant will include the addition of two new production trains at the Khor Mor plant, as well as drilling of new wells with plans to raise production from the current 400 MMscf/day to reach 650 MMscf/day by 2021 based on this latest GSA, and then to 900 MMscf/day beyond that by 2022.

This follows the 30% production increase from debottlenecking throughput at the Khor Mor plant, which brought current total production to 106,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), making it the largest regional private sector upstream gas operation in Iraq today.

Gas sales commenced late in 2018 under a gas sales agreement signed in January of that year, and all payments have been received in a timely manner in full, which gives confidence for the investment and expansion plans currently underway by the Consortium. The Kurdistan Gas Project, which recently commemorated 10 years of continuous production, supplies natural gas from the Khor Mor field by pipeline to power plants in Bazian, Chemchemal and Erbil, as well as LPG and condensate, which are sold in the local markets.

In August 2017, Pearl Petroleum reached a full and final settlement with the KRG of the arbitration between them, including settlement of past receivables and committing to expand their investment and operations in the region. These expansion plans include the multi-well drilling program currently underway in both the Khor Mor & Chemchemal fields, as well as installation of additional gas processing and liquids extraction facilities. The fields are operated jointly by Crescent Petroleum and Dana Gas on behalf of Pearl Petroleum.

Total investment in the Kurdistan Gas Project to date exceeds $1.6 billion, with total cumulative production of over 260 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe), delivering billions of dollars in fuel cost savings and wider economic benefits for the Kurdistan Region and Iraq as a whole. That impact will continue to grow as production capacity expands in the coming years.

Dr. Ashti Hawrami, Minister of Natural Resources of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said:

“This agreement is an important step for us as we deliver improved services to the people of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq through enhanced electricity generation from the increase in gas production by the Consortium. The Kurdistan Region holds significant reserves of gas and the KRG is committed to playing a positive role in the growing gas and electricity needs of Iraq and the region.”

Mr. Majid Jafar, CEO of Crescent Petroleum and Board Managing Director of Dana Gas, commented:

“This gas sales agreement opens a new chapter in the expansion of the Kurdistan Gas Project that will see a further investment of over $700 million in coming years to expand production up to 900 MMscf/day, further fueling the Region’s economic growth and development. We look forward to developing the significant resources from these important fields, for the benefit of the Kurdistan Region and all of Iraq.”

Dr. Patrick Allman-Ward, CEO of Dana Gas, added:

“Dana Gas and our partners in Pearl Petroleum are particularly proud to be investing further in the gas sector of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, delivering a reliable source of cleaner energy, and supporting local economic development.  The continuing receipt of payments in a timely manner gives confidence for our continued investment commitment as we enter our second decade of production.”

As part of its work in the KRI, Pearl has implemented a corporate social responsibility program to support local communities, including providing school supplies, drinking water treatment, generators and fuel enabling 24-hour electricity for local villages, mobile medical units, and youth sports facilities, as well as financial support for 1,000 orphans from the Chemchemal area in partnership with a local charity Foundation.

These initiatives are assisting the local communities in improving their standard of living, health, well-being, security and stability and the development of human capital.

(Source: Dana Gas)