Iraq to Build 5 New Refineries

By John Lee.

The Iraqi Ministry of Oil has reportedly announced that it will select a number of international investment companies to build five new refineries around the country:

  1. Kirkuk with a capacity of 70,000 barrels per day (bpd);
  2. Wasit capacity of 140,000 bpd;
  3. Nasiriyah capacity of 140,000 bpd;
  4. Basra card 140,000 bpd; and
  5. al-Faw capacity of 300,000 bpd.

According to Asharq Al-Awsat, the Ministry is financing Karbala refinery which is about 78 percent completed, and once it is fully constructed, it will provide about 9 million liters per day of high-quality gasoline, in addition to various oil derivatives in accordance with international standards.

(Source: Asharq Al-Awsat)

(Pictured: Baiji Oil Refinery)

What’s Really Polluting the Shatt al-Arab?

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

What’s Really Polluting Southern Iraq’s Most Important Waterway?

For years, fish and other marine life has been disappearing from the all-important Shatt al-Arab waterway in Basra. This wide river at the southern end of Iraq is an important port, linking Iraq with the Persian gulf. It is a vital part of the local environment.

In the more recent past, there have been criticisms that the Shatt al-Arab is too polluted, radioactive and affected with bacterial diseases. Locals often ask why. But it’s not like there is a lack of knowledge about the various causes of this river’s life-threatening problems. A wide number of experts in the area have been studying the different types of pollution problems carefully for years.

Researcher Jabbar Hafez Jebur has conducted a number of studies on whether the Shatt al-Arab is radioactive, taking samples from  various contributing rivers. “The concentration of radioactive elements are within the permitted limits and do not require any action,” he told NIQASH.

The Shatt al-Arab is free of radioactivity, confirms Khajak Vartanian, a physicist with the southern Directorate of the Environment. “But,” he added, “there is growing chemical pollution.”

The concentrations of toxic metals like nickel, chromium, lead, zinc and cadmium can be measured on the water’s surface and in its sediments, says hydrologist Safaa al-Asadi, of the University of Basra’s geography department. There are low  concentrations of toxins spread evenly throughout the waterway.

“Yes, the river is contaminated with toxic minerals but their levels are still within the limits of daily use for irrigation and for aquatic survival,” al-Asadi explained. In fact, much of the pollution comes from the gas emissions in the atmosphere that result from oil extraction activities, he continued, as well as the pollutants issued by diesel generators. These pollutants, discharged into the air, end up in the river after it rains.

Where the various toxins end up depends very much on the tides in the Shatt al-Arab. Their location depends less on the discharge of industrial and domestic sewage, he notes, pointing out that man-made discharges directly into the river have less of an impact than those coming from the sky.

Basra’s Ministry of the Environment regularly monitors the amount of pollution in the waterways at various different points, says Ahmed Jassim Hanoun, director of the department for the protection of the environment at the ministry. Samples are taken regularly and tested, he adds.

Hanoun says his offices are concerned about the direct discharge of pollutants into the Shatt al-Arab and other nearby rivers. But he believes that one of the most important factors is the level of salinity, or salt, in the water.

No bacterial diseases were discovered in the waterways recently and Hanoun says this has a lot to do with the lower levels of salinity. Authorities have tried to ensure that more fresh water is released into the Shatt al-Arab to keep fresh water flowing, and prevent sea water from coming in from the ocean.

“What we noticed after periodic tests throughout 2019 is that the releases of fresh water from the Tigris river, coming from out of Maysan province, has meant that there is more resistance to the salt tongue coming in from the sea,” Hanoun said. The previous year, when there was not as much rainfall upriver, the Shatt al-Arab was a lot saltier and therefore more prone to bacterial growth.

“The department of water resources released 30 to 40 cubic meters [of fresh water] per second in 2018 but in 2019, it released more than 90 cubic meters per second,” Hanoun noted.

Besides the bacterial contamination, saline water from the sea and industrial and environmental pollution, there is another thing that isn’t helping, Hanoun points out: The number of submerged objects in the waterway.

His department has regularly asked the port authority to clear the waterways of the hundreds of objects there, he says.

“We are suffering because of the delay from the government,” says Khaled al-Talibi, a sea captain and head of a local mariners’ association. “The submerged items disrupt navigation in the harbour and change the way the sand and silt moves, which in turn causes a change in currents and reduces the flow of water to the river mouth.”

Cabinet Approves $25m Desalination Project

By John Lee.

The Cabinet held its regular weekly meeting in Baghdad on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Adil Abd Al-Mahdi.

It authorised the Ministries of Education, Higher Education and Scientific Research, other ministries, public bodies and local councils to recruit holders of post- graduate degrees, and to exempt this round of recruitment from applicable clauses in the 2019 Federal Budget. The exemption is for this year only.

The Cabinet approved a letter of intent from the Ministry of Oil, and authorised it to task Italian company ENI to carry out a project for the supply and installation of two desalination plants at Al-Baradiya in Basra Province with a capacity of 400 cubic meters per hour each, and for the amount of 24,965,768 US dollars.

The Cabinet discussed other policies on employment, housing and transport.

(Source: UN)

Cancer hits Iraqi oil city of Basra

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

Cancer hits residents of Iraqi oil city of Basra

The deputy governor of Basra province, Zahra al-Bijari, claimed June 6 that cancer rates have been growing dramatically in the province as a result of pollution, both from oil production and from depleted uranium dust that a doctor says is causing “another Hiroshima.

The province of Basra is registering 800 new cases of cancer per month, according to Iraq’s High Commission for Human Rights, which attributed the cause to “multiple reasons, including environmental pollutants, whether in the air such as emanating from oil combustion, in water and soil, and resulting from effects of war.

Click here to read the full story.

(Picture credit: Ahmed Mahmoud)

Video: Years of Conflict hit Health Services in Basra

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

Iraq’s vast oil wealth once paid for some of the best health services in the Middle East.

But decades of conflict and political unrest have led to, what the government admits, a crisis in hospitals.

Things are particularly bad in Basra province where people have long complained of government neglect.

Around 70 children are being treated for cancer in Basra Children’s Hospital.

Experts say pollution from surrounding oilfields is one of the reasons why Basra has the highest rate of cancer in Iraq.

Al Jazeera‘s Charles Stratford reports:

Rocket attack on Oil Workers’ Camp

By John Lee.

A rocket has hit a residential and oil operations headquarters near Basra city, wounding three workers at an Iraqi drilling company.

The short-range Katyusha missile hit a compound in Burjesia which is used by several international oil companies (IOCs), including ExxonMobil.

Oil production and exports are not expected to be affected.

(Sources: The Guardian, Bloomberg, Xinhua)

$1bn Japanese Financing for Basrah Refinery

JICA to Support Iraq’s Reconstruction and Revitalization through Upgrade of Basrah Refinery

Signing of Japanese ODA Loan Agreement for Iraq

On 16 June, 2019, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Iraqi Government signed a loan agreement at Ministry of Finance in Baghdad.

The ODA (Official Development Assistance) loan amounting to JPY 110,000 million (approximately USD 1 billion) will be used for Basrah Refinery Upgrading Project. The loan agreement was signed by H.E. Mr. Fuad Mohammed Hussein, Minister of Finance and Masayuki Hirosawa, Chief Representative of JICA Iraq Office, in the presence of H.E. Mr. Hamid Younis Salih, Deputy Minister of Oil and H.E. Mr. Naofumi Hashimoto, Japanese Ambassador to Iraq. This concessional ODA loan aims to support the Government of Iraq in its efforts to reconstruct the country and revitalize its economy.

The loan named “Basrah Refinery Upgrading Project (II)” is the second tranche loan for Basrah Refinery Upgrading Project, one of the mega projects known in the region. For the same project, JICA previously concluded two loan agreements for (i) the engineering services loan in the amount of JPY 2,079 million and (ii) the first tranche loan in the amount of JPY 42,435 million.

The entire project aims to increase the quantity and quality of oil products including gasoline, diesel and kerosene, by installing a new refining plant called Fluid Catalytic Cracking (FCC) Complex in Basrah Refinery, which is one of the biggest oil refineries currently operational in Iraq. It will be implemented by South Refineries Company, Ministry of Oil.

Iraq has the world’s fifth-largest proven oil reserves and is currently OPEC’s second-largest producer. Nevertheless, most of the existing refineries in the country have been shut down or decreased their production capacity, suffered from damages and deterioration in the previous decades of conflicts. Many of the plans to construct new refineries have faced with challenges and delays and are yet to achieve substantial increase of the refining capacity.

On the contrary, the ongoing reconstruction efforts in liberated areas and the revitalization of socio-economic activities across the country have prompted huge demand for fuels, such as gasoline and diesel. As a result, despite being one of the largest oil producers, Iraq has no choice but to import the significant amount of oil products from neighboring countries so as to meet the demand for transport, power generation and industrial production.

Against this backdrop, the project to construct Iraq’s first-ever FCC Complex will increase the volume of the high-value added oil products, promote the transfer of refining technologies from Japan and help save valuable foreign currencies to import huge amount of fuels. The new plant will also reduce sulfur content in the products in accordance with the international environmental standards. Furthermore, the project is expected to pave the way for energizing private sector involvement in the downstream of Iraq’s energy industry and provide economic opportunities for the people of Iraq, especially in Basrah.

The loan is very concessional with the low interest rate and long repayment period: the interest rate of 0.20% and the repayment period of 40 years including 10-year grace period.

(Source: JICA)

Capstone Wins Order to Microturbines in Basra

US-based Capstone Turbine Corporation (Nasdaq: CPST) has announced today that it has secured an order for two C600 Signature Series microturbines to provide 1.2 megawatts (MW) of energy to power a triethylene glycol (TEG) dehydration facility in the Basra region of Southern Iraq.

The order also includes Capstone’s new self-cleaning pulse filtration system which will allow the microturbines to endure the remote and sandy conditions with minimal maintenance. The order was secured by Technical Solutions to Industry FZE (TSI), Capstone’s authorized distributor to Iraq and United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Fueled by available raw gas, Capstone’s two C600S microturbines will power 100% of the new dehydration facility. The new facility is part of a larger 25-year joint venture between local gas and leading oil producer’s efforts to capture, treat and monetize associated gas currently being flared from three southern Iraq oilfields.

Capstone recently developed a new line of self-cleanable severe environment air filtration systems for its Signature Series line of microturbine products to facilitate its expansion into the oil and gas business in the Middle East as part of its overall double digit revenue growth strategy.

The company announced its intentions to expand its business into the Middle East a couple of years ago and has previously delivered successful projects in Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Capstone expects that higher oil prices and the move towards reduced gas flaring will continue to drive demand and should provide a positive backdrop for Capstone’s low emission microturbine solutions.

Darren Jamison, President and Chief Executive Officer of Capstone, said:

Flaring is the traditional way to dispose of unwanted gas produced during oil exploration activities, but the long standing practice creates an immense amount of carbon dioxide emissions and adds to climate change.

“In Iraq alone, 16 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas is flared annually, making it a wasted resource that could instead provide electricity or other benefits to meet the predicted doubling demand by 2030.

Iraq is one of the world’s biggest energy producers and is set to become the fourth-largest oil-producer by 2030 behind the United States, Saudi Arabia and Russia according to the IEA report, Iraq’s Energy Sector: A Roadmap to a Brighter Future 2019.

At the same time, 60-70% of gas produced is being flared due to the lack on infrastructure causing Iraq to import natural gas from the neighboring country of Iran. To improve efficiency and help with shortfalls due to rising electricity demand, the Iraqi government is working with international gas companies to capture and utilize its resources versus flaring.

Jim Crouse, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Capstone, said:

As pressure for more efficient and environmentally conscious oil and gas production increases, we continue to see an increased demand for microturbines for flare reduction applications.

“Capstone, through its distributor network, is committed to do its part by educating and working with producers and local operators for a more profitable production. Flare reduction applications like this in Basra can have a payback as short as one year which makes it an economic win as well as an environmental win.

(Source: Capstone)

Production to Increase at Al Faihaa Oilfield

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)

Iraq’s Oil Sector caught in crossfire between US, Iran

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

ExxonMobil evacuated dozens of its non-Iraqi employees from Iraq on May 18. The evacuation follows a US State Department decision to withdraw its non-essential staff from the US Embassy in Baghdad and its consulate in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.

The US oil company relocated its employees to Dubai, where they will continue their work related to the West Qurna-1 oil field in Basra. The company announced May 31 that it will begin returning its employees from June 2 after the Iraqi government promised to increase the security measures in the site.

Click here to read the full story.