By Hamdi Malik for Foreign Affairs. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Mustafa al-Kadhimi (pictured), Iraq’s new prime minister as of May 12, has already announced a bold intention.

In a short government manifesto he submitted to the Iraqi Parliament, Kadhimi emphasized his plans to “impose the state’s prestige” by bringing armed groups under government control.

To observers of post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, the manifesto’s meaning is clear: the damage to the state’s “prestige” has, after all, come mainly from pro-Iranian militant groups who answer to the commanders of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), rather than to Iraq’s commander in chief.

Click here to read the full story.

By John Lee.

Iraq’s national lockdown in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has reportedly given a boost to local businesses.

According to a report from AFP, local businesses no longer have to compete with imports from countries such as Turkey, Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait.

It quotes the owner of an ice-cream factory in Basra as saying:

“The coronavirus crisis has allowed us to prove ourselves on the Iraqi market.”

More here.

(Source: AFP)

Petrofac‘s Engineering & Production Services division (EPS) has secured a further six-month contract extension with Basra Oil Company (BOC) for its long-standing Iraq Crude Oil Export Expansion Project (ICOEEP).

According to a statement from Petrofac, the confirmation of the contract extension is recognition of Petrofac’s successful seven-and-a-half-year track record of safe and efficient delivery and ability to sustain and improve export levels as incumbent operations and maintenance service provider.

The facility, which is one of the largest export terminals in the Gulf and handles around 50% of Iraq’s crude oil exports, is located 60 km offshore the Al Fao Peninsula in Southern Iraq. It comprises a central metering and manifold platform and four Single Point Moorings (SPMs) which facilitate oil export onto awaiting crude carrier tankers. In addition, Petrofac is responsible for almost 300 km of subsea pipelines, 1800 metres of subsea and floating hose infrastructure and a marine spread comprising 14 vessels.

Mani Rajapathy, Managing Director, EPS East, said:

We are delighted to be awarded this further contract extension in Iraq by our longstanding client BOC. During this current challenging period for operations we have continued to work well together, improving the daily export beyond two million barrels. We thank BOC for their consistent support and look forward to maintaining the best-in-class operation of this important national asset.

Mr Ihsan Ismaael, Director General of BOC commented:

Petrofac continues to be a true partner to BOC, ensuring uninterrupted and record exports. We appreciate their commitment, particularly during this recent period, and congratulate them for hitting new export highs.

Petrofac has been present in Iraq since 2010. Today, Petrofac employs around 400 people in country and is currently working on a number of projects for a variety of NOC and IOC clients.

(Source: Petrofac)

Petrofac‘s Engineering & Production Services division (EPS) has secured a further six-month contract extension with Basra Oil Company (BOC) for its long-standing Iraq Crude Oil Export Expansion Project (ICOEEP).

According to a statement from Petrofac, the confirmation of the contract extension is recognition of Petrofac’s successful seven-and-a-half-year track record of safe and efficient delivery and ability to sustain and improve export levels as incumbent operations and maintenance service provider.

The facility, which is one of the largest export terminals in the Gulf and handles around 50% of Iraq’s crude oil exports, is located 60 km offshore the Al Fao Peninsula in Southern Iraq. It comprises a central metering and manifold platform and four Single Point Moorings (SPMs) which facilitate oil export onto awaiting crude carrier tankers. In addition, Petrofac is responsible for almost 300 km of subsea pipelines, 1800 metres of subsea and floating hose infrastructure and a marine spread comprising 14 vessels.

Mani Rajapathy, Managing Director, EPS East, said:

We are delighted to be awarded this further contract extension in Iraq by our longstanding client BOC. During this current challenging period for operations we have continued to work well together, improving the daily export beyond two million barrels. We thank BOC for their consistent support and look forward to maintaining the best-in-class operation of this important national asset.

Mr Ihsan Ismaael, Director General of BOC commented:

Petrofac continues to be a true partner to BOC, ensuring uninterrupted and record exports. We appreciate their commitment, particularly during this recent period, and congratulate them for hitting new export highs.

Petrofac has been present in Iraq since 2010. Today, Petrofac employs around 400 people in country and is currently working on a number of projects for a variety of NOC and IOC clients.

(Source: Petrofac)

By John Lee.

Iraq’s oil-rig count has reportedly fallen by almost two-thirds this year.

Iraqi sources told S&P Global Platts that the total now averages 32 rigs operated by IOCs this month, down from 88 rigs in December 2019.

Federal Iraq is averaging 31 rigs this month, compared with 76 in December, while the Iraqi Kurdistan is averaging only one rig in May compared with 12 in December.

The reductions come after international oil companies were ordered to cut spending because of the oil-price crash.

More here.

(Source: S&P Global Platts)

By John Lee.

DNO ASA, the Norwegian oil and gas operator, today provided production and spend guidance for the balance of the year ahead of its Annual General Meeting on Wednesday.

The Company reported that it has implemented the target 35 percent reductions across all spend categories to shrink its 2020 budget by USD 350 million to USD 640 million in response to turbulence and uncertainty in global oil and financial markets triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

While strengthening its balance sheet, cutbacks in spend will throttle back 2020 Company Working Interest (CWI) production to a projected 88,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), of which the Kurdistan region of Iraq will contribute 71,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd) and the North Sea 17,000 boepd. DNO’s CWI production averaged 104,800 boepd last year.

In Kurdistan, DNO has reduced the number of rigs deployed in drilling, testing and workovers from five in 2019 and early 2020 to two; these two rigs are believed to be the only ones currently active in Kurdistan, down from an overall count approaching 20 last summer.

Of the two active rigs, one is drilling the Zartik-1 exploration well on the DNO-operated Baeshiqa license and the other is a Tawke license workover rig that will shortly be moved for scheduled maintenance. However, two third-party rigs have been warm stacked at the Tawke and Peshkabir fields and can quickly be mobilized if oil prices climb and export payments are regularized.

“Our cost cutbacks have been thoughtful and deliberate as we moved at warp speed to preserve cash and our balance sheet,” said Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani, DNO’s Executive Chairman. “The resulting reductions in oil production especially in Kurdistan are reversible with a restart of drilling,” he added. “We have not lost reserves but simply parked a portion until the market recovers. And it will.”

Gross production at the DNO-operated Tawke license in the Kurdistan region of Iraq containing the Tawke and Peshkabir fields, absent drilling of new infill wells to arrest natural field decline, is expected to average 100,000 bopd in 2020. This reflects a drop from 115,210 bopd in Q1 2020 to 100,000 bopd in Q2 2020 and 90,000 bopd over the balance of the year. The Tawke license exit rate at yearend 2020 is projected at 85,000 bopd absent new wells. Production continues to be split 55-45 between the Tawke and Peshkabir fields.

On a CWI basis, DNO’s production in Kurdistan in the second half of the year is projected to average 65,000 bopd (81,220 bopd in Q1 2020 and an estimated 70,000 bopd in Q2 2020). CWI in North Sea operations will contribute another 17,000 boepd in the second half of 2020 (18,640 boepd in Q1 2020 and an estimated 17,000 boepd in Q2 2020).

Budget cuts and the newly announced Norwegian production caps are not expected to make a material change to DNO’s 2020 North Sea projections; the majority of the Company’s fields subject to the restrictions are not fully utilizing their previous higher production permits.

DNO ASA 2020 Projected Spend
Q1 2020 Q2 2020 Q3+Q4 2020 2020 2019
Actual Projected Projected Projected Actual
USD million USD million USD million USD million USD million
Exploration expenditures 34 36 65 135 187
Capital expenditures 78 37 40 155 339
Operating expenditures 59 49 92 200 237
Abandonment expenditures 17 7 7 31 23
Operational spend 187 129 204 520 786
Other 40 34 46 120 203
TOTAL 227 163 250 640 989

Note: Figures above are pre-tax (i.e., before exploration tax refund in Norway). The category
“Other” includes general and administrative expenditures (G&A), net interest payments and

(Source: DNO)

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) applauds the Iraqi government’s leadership and decisive response to the COVID-19 outbreak at a time when it is also confronting separate crises, including social unrest and an unprecedented economic downturn.

The UN commends the determination shown by local, regional and national authorities to contain the virus, as well as the success of the early and sustained measures that were adopted with strong support from communities. It nevertheless warns that each and every person plays a critical role in facing the ongoing second wave of infections observed across many governorates.

Recalling her recent statement to the UN Security Council, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert stressed that “no amount of government response can succeed without the active involvement of the entire population”. She added “Despite the high hardship imposed by these measures, we know that they represent our best hope of getting back on our feet as soon as possible”.

The entire United Nations family, with the World Health Organization (WHO) in the lead, is providing critical assistance to Iraq to face the pandemic, including lab and medical supplies, personal protective equipment, funding and technical advice.

“Iraqis can continue to count on the steadfast support of the United Nations during their time of need. The ultimate responsibility lies with individuals, who must play their part by following the instructions of the health authorities to protect themselves and their families”, the Special Representative concluded.

(Source: UN)