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

The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) decided May 4 to open an economic representative office in Iraq.

The decision was made during a meeting bringing together executives at Iraq’s Oil Ministry and Iranian oil industry equipment producers, on the sidelines of the Iran Oil Show 2019.

Ramin Gholampour Dezfouli, NIOC’s director for support, construction and goods supply, said only Iranian companies approved by the NIOC will be able to partake in Iraqi Oil Ministry projects.

Click here to read the full story.

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.

From Al Jazeera. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraq is looking to strengthen its economy after decades of war, sanctions, sectarian division and the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS).

It has achieved some progress in recent years thanks to its oil industry; Iraq is the second-largest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and oil provides roughly 85 percent of the government’s revenue.

As the country enters a period of relative calm, Iraq’s oil minister, Thamer Ghadhban, says the government is working to expand its oil industries and improve infrastructure, which includes building more refineries and investing in southern gas fields and export routes.

By John Lee.

Kuwait will reportedly fund the reconstruction of a major border crossing with Iraq.

According to Anadolu Agency, Iraq’s Border Crossing Authority said a memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between the two countries to prepare the infrastructure for the crossing at Safwan.

(Source: Anadolu Agency)

By Padraig O’Hannelly.

Our friend and former contributor Robert Tollast has been touring Iraq’s religious and archeological sites.

Writing in Middle East Eye, he says:

“Iraq still gives visitors a sense of having a private viewing of some of the world’s wonders, such as the 4,000-year-old ruins of Babylon, and the awe-inspiring Holy Shrines of Hussein and Ali with their intricate mirrored ceilings and breathtaking tile work.”

His full article can be read here.

(Picture Credit: Middle East Eye / Charlotte Mayhew)

Iraq, one of the world’s biggest energy producers, can address its current electricity shortfall and growing power needs through immediate action to relieve pressure on the system, according to an in-depth report published Thursday by the International Energy Agency.

It also provides a medium-term strategy that makes the best use of the country’s abundant oil and natural gas resources and solar potential.

Despite the extraordinary challenges of war in recent years, Iraq has made impressive gains, nearly doubling the country’s oil production over the past decade. But the turmoil has also undermined the country’s ability to maintain and invest in its power infrastructure.

The new IEA report, Iraq’s Energy Sector: A Roadmap to a Brighter Future, maps out immediate practical actions and medium-term measures to tackle the most pressing problems in Iraq’s electricity sector.

The analysis finds Iraq has huge potential to cut its electricity network losses, which are among the highest in the world. Reducing these losses by half would help dramatically improve the efficiency of grid supply, effectively increasing available capacity by one-third.

The report also takes a detailed look at the country’s oil and gas sector. It projects that Iraq’s oil production will grow by 1.3 million barrels a day by 2030, accounting for the third-largest increase globally over the period, and soon becoming the world’s fourth-largest oil producer behind the United States, Saudi Arabia and Russia.

The report also notes that more gas can be captured and put to use in efficient power plants. Today, 16 billion cubic meters of gas are flared each year, more than enough to replace Iraq’s current imports.

Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director met, with Iraqi President Barham Salih on Wednesday in Baghdad, and presented the study’s findings and recommendations. He then met with Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi to discuss ways forward for the electricity sector, including making best use of Iraq’s significant natural gas and solar resources.

On Thursday, Dr Birol will discuss the report at a press conference with Thamir Ghadhban, the Deputy Prime Minister for Energy and Minister of Oil, and Luay Al-Khatteeb, the Minister of Electricity.

The IEA has worked closely with the Iraqi Ministries of Oil and Electricity to produce the report, and would like to thank the ministers and their staff for their cooperation with this study.

“Operating under extremely challenging circumstances, Iraq has done a remarkable job expanding its oil industry,” said Dr Birol. “Today’s urgent issue is to address the national power sector as the summer heatwave approaches by improving grid maintenance, boosting electricity production with larger mobile generators, and incentivising upgrades of power plants. The IEA is pleased to recommend immediate practical actions for the benefit of the entire Iraqi people, and provide a roadmap for a sustainable power system in the medium term.”

Iraq’s electricity demand is set to double between now and 2030, and its shortfall in electricity supply will widen, as the country’s population grows by more than 1 million people each year.

Without changes to the current structure of electricity supply and improvements to the network, domestic generation, imports and neighbourhood generation would need to double by 2030, for a total supply of over 250 TWh. However, there are many opportunities to improve on this outcome through measures such as investing in transmission and distribution to cut network losses.

Promoting the more efficient use of electricity, including by introducing more progressive tariffs, would play an important role in ensuring that the growth in demand during the summer peak does not continue to outpace supply.

Iraq also needs to take advantage of its abundant renewable energy potential.  The analysis shows that expanding the share of solar PV and wind to 30% of electricity supply by 2030 would bring benefits both to the Iraqi consumer, in the form of reduced electricity bills, and to the environment.

Reducing network losses and moving towards an electricity mix where renewables play a more prominent role would free up 9 billion cubic meters of gas for other uses in 2030, plus 450 kb/d of oil for export.

“In addition to oil, Iraq is blessed with some of the richest solar and gas resources in the world but it is yet to take advantage of them,” Dr Birol said. “Turning that potential into fuel for its own economy and for export would help bring about a more sustainable, reliable and affordable energy future.”

The report is the second in-depth study of Iraq’s energy sector following the publication of the Iraq Energy Outlook in 2012.

Download the report here.

(Source: IEA)