Successful IBBC Conference in Dubai

IBBC's 5th Annual Iraq Conference in Dubai - Opportunity in Adversity

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) was much praised at its conference on Thursday for pioneering in COVID-19 times by bringing together senior officials from Iraq, the UAE and the UK, prominent international and Iraqi businessmen, bankers and professional advisers as speakers and over 100 delegates.

With the Address Hotel as host venue implementing the strictest hygiene regime and using video links, delegates enjoyed a day of vigorous analysis and debate about the issues currently creating the adverse conditions dominating the Iraqi political and business landscape and what measures were needed to improve matters, but nevertheless inspirational presentations highlighted success stories across a number of sectors in panel sessions covering energy, finance, infrastructure/logistics and tech.

Highlights of the day were presentations made by Mrs Zena Yousif Iraq consul general in Dubai, the first woman to ever hold that position, and the fact that all the leaders of the energy companies presenting were Iraqi nationals for the first time ever, namely Mr Zaid Elyaseri, Vice President Iraq from BP, Mr Ali Al Janabi, Chairman, from Shell, Mr Musab Alkateeb, Managing Director, from Siemens Energy, and all were addressing common global issues currently affecting that sector - low oil and gas prices, environmental and green issues.

Mr Aziz Khudairi, Chairman of the Khudairi Group with multiple businesses in Iraq urged the Iraqi Government to embrace the private sector to grow prosperity in Iraq and to provide employment for the millions of young Iraqis, to protect Iraqi businesses from unfair dumping by foreign competitors, but in return emphasised the need for the Iraqi workforce to rediscover a work ethic so that Iraqi companies would become efficient and profitable.

Baroness Nicholson made her Welcome Address by video link from London and at the end of the day announced the new annual award to be made to an Iraqi SME for its contribution to business in Iraq, in memory of the recently deceased Engineer Rasmi al Jabri, IBBC deputy chairman.

Amongst the many excellent speakers were:

  • H.E. Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, UAE
  • H.E. Dr Abdulkariem Al Faisal, Chairman of the Prime Minister's Advisory Commission
  • Mrs Zena Yousif, Consulate General of Iraq in Dubai
  • Mr Simon Penny, Her Majesty's UK Trade Commissioner for the Middle East

Conference Sponsors were Basra Gateway Terminal, Siemens Energy and Serco.

Vikas Handa of Gulftek, Conference chairman said:

"Today's IBBC conference in Dubai is the testimony of human resilience on the face of adversity. We had unexpected turnout & great participation from the ministers, industry leaders and businesses from Iraq, UAE & UK.

"We covered a lot of ground to chart the way forward, network & learn from each other. I along with IBBC MD Christophe Michels would like to thank our key members for their unwavering support to make it happen."

In parallel

The Tech Forum took place online, with participants from Iraq, UK, Dubai and France, to review and discuss the digitisation of Iraq, based on the World Bank's Report in April.

Chaired by Ashley Goodall of IBBC, we reviewed how the Government of Iraq ( GOI ) and digital development in general has been evolving since April, as Alexandre Laure, the World bank Sector specialist, who wrote the report - shared with us areas of development : namely, 6 key areas : Digital inclusion, banking and finance, Investment, Infrastructure, SMEs and start-ups, skill development and linking to external digital organisations. Two areas of progress include the establishment of a Tech fund for start-ups and SME investment, and the payment of Government salaries directly to bank accounts digitally. Additionally, there are areas of deregulation for start -ups and new businesses, although the registration cost of $37500 was deemed exclusionary for most start-ups.

Jawad Abbasi of GSMA MENA said that 4G infrastructure is critical in extending internet across Iraq, and this has been put on hold for the moment. This would increase the ability of users to trade, exchange and create new products on-line, as well as boost the digital economy. Yazen Altimimi CEO of Zain Cash echoed this issue as Zain are often blamed for poor internet experience, when it's an infrastructure issue. Zain's consumer uptake is rapid and there is a healthy growth and interest in the digital economy as a business and consumer medium. If 4G can be delivered the economy will see a rapid upswing. In short there is pent up demand and an appetite from consumers to transact on- line, so it makes sense to deliver 4G to ensure the whole economy expands.

Laura Oliver, director of Iraq Tech Ventures, amplified the issue for start -ups and SME.s who want to trade on line, and the raised the issue of the high cost of registration that prohibits start-ups registering formally, and therefore rely on the cash economy, so they are unable to get formal credit and investment. These two issues, of 4G and registration should be straight forward to address and would make a big different to the overall digital development of the Iraqi economy, and encourage investment from external digital companies like Facebook, Amazon and Google.

In a second panel: Online Consumer behaviour, Caroline McGarr of ThinkBank - a leading research agency in Irbil, presented key finding among Iraqi consumers between 18-45, and again found a big demand for consumer goods, banking on line for an unbanked 83% of the population. In sectors such as Fashion, health and social media there is enormous pent up demand as over 50% of these people spend over 5 hours a day on-line. Again, the issue of reliable internet, useful apps and products to purchase and reliability of banking, echo the first panel's concerns.

The overall message from both panels is that there is huge unmet demand among youthful Iraqi's for more services, better internet, better banking (trust) and online interaction with Government and products that will be better served by better internet and the proliferation of new goods and services from SMEs and start-ups, who themselves are constrained by registration fees and investment.

A full video of the sessions, including the presentation charts can be viewed here

For more information please contact london@webuildiraq.org

(Source: IBBC)

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Iraq Pushes Faw Refinery Project

By John Lee.

The Iraqi Ministry of Oil has invited international companies to participate in the competition to implement the Faw Refinery Project in Basra.

The project will be offered on a BOO (Build, Own, Operate) or BOOT (Build, Own, Operate, Transfer) basis.

Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismail said the refinery will be environmentally friendly and in conformity with international standards (EURO 5), adding that a petrochemical complex will be added to the project in the future.

(Source: Ministry of Oil)

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Fmr Australian Exec Arrested over Alleged Iraq Bribery

By John Lee.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has made one arrest, and issued a further two arrest warrants, following an investigation into alleged improper payments made by Singapore-registered Leighton Offshore Pty Ltd, regarding two contracts with Iraq Crude Oil Export in 2010 and 2011.

The Sydney Morning Herald names the arrested suspect as Russell Waugh, a former senior executive from Australian construction giant Leighton Holdings.

Police will allege the key targets of the bribery scheme were Iraqi Ministry of Oil officials and government officials within Iraq's South Oil Company (SOC).

AFP investigators will allege Leighton Offshore Pty Ltd funnelled bribes through entities associated with a United Arab Emirates-based businessman, and Monaco-based Unaoil, to guarantee approvals for the Iraq Crude Oil Export contracts.

More here and here.

(Sources: Australian Federal Police, Sydney Morning Herald)

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KRG DPM Talabani to Speak at Virtual Kurdistan Iraq Economic Forum

Kurdistan's Deputy Prime Minister HE Qubad Talabani to Speak at the Virtual Kurdistan Iraq Economic Forum

  • Inaugural Conference set to navigate the economic future Kurdistan and Iraq
  • Conference will include online sessions available live and on demand for all attendees
  • Delegates will gain insights into the latest policy and project announcements, crucial for successful investment decisions in the region as well as the key recovery strategies post pandemic
  • Virtual Event will take place on 17 - 18 November through an interactive platform

CWC and Global Future Energy are hosting the Kurdistan-Iraq Economic Forum with the support of the KRG High Commission to the UK.

Sponsored by Chevron, the Forum aims to be the first gathering dedicated to the economic diversification of the Region, and will include 6 panel sessions, enabling senior decision makers across multiple industries to engage with each other virtually to address current issues and facilitate practical solutions to advance the economy in these challenging times.

Confirmed speakers include:

  1. HE Qubad Talabani, Deputy Prime Minister, Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq HE
  2. HE Safeen Dizayee, Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, Kurdistan Regional Government, Iraq
  3. HE Karwan Jamal, Kurdistan Region High Representative to the UK, London
  4. HE Dr Amanj Raheem, Cabinet Minister, Member of the Oil & Gas Council, Kurdistan Regional Government, Iraq
  5. HE Kamal Muslim Saeed, Minister of Trade & Industry, Kurdistan Regional Government, Iraq
  6. Matthew M. Zais, Ph.D., Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of International Affairs, US Department of Energy

"The Kurdistan Region has an opportunity to become an important commercial centre in Iraq and the region in order to attract foreign investments to implement strategic projects" said Prime Minister Barzani last month at the Supreme Economic Council meeting in the presence of Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani and a number of ministers and governors.

In light of the current unprecedented circumstances, decision-makers and influencers from various industries will gather to unlock new business opportunities on all levels of the economy   by addressing the following themes:

  • Extending the Value Chain beyond Producing Oil: How the Oil Sector Could Enrich Economic Diversification?
  • Kurdistan plans to privatize the electricity sector, opportunities for investors
  • Diversifying the energy mix to increase the role of gas and renewables
  • How to grow non-oil sectors that will provide a sustainable source of growth?
  • Fiscal reforms packages to support the recovery of post pandemic
  • Maximizing strategic alignment with the major companies to support in building the region's infrastructure
  • Promoting the growth of the economy through innovations in procurement and financial supply chain management processes

Over the past decade, the CWC Iraq Portfolio has hosted over 100+ Ministers and Senior Officials at various events. The Inaugural Kurdistan Iraq Economic Forum will bring together the international commercial executives interested in investing in Kurdistan.  CWC, now a brand of Global Future Energy, will again provide the only international platform for high level stakeholders in the Region to convene.

For further information, visit https://www.kurdistan-economic.com/

To access the full programme, please click here.

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Cabinet commits resources to Dhi Qar province

The Iraqi Cabinet held an extraordinary meeting in the city Nasiriyah in Dhi Qar province on Monday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi.

At the start of the meeting, the Prime Minister said that the people of Dhi Qar had sacrificed much for Iraq, but they have suffered from the consequences of past marginalisation. He affirmed that this government is determined to address the challenges facing the province.

Following discussions, the Cabinet approved several measures to improve services and boost investment in Dhi Qar, including:

  • Establish Dhi Qar Reconstruction Council to oversee the implementation of key projects in the province
  • Establish a working group to review all delayed and incomplete projects in Dhi Qar to ensure that work on these projects is resumed, giving a priority to projects that have direct impact on the lives of citizens. The working group will be chaired by the Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers, with the membership of the Governor of Dhi Qar, the Deputy Minister of Planning, the Deputy Minister of Construction, Housing and Municipalities, and representatives from the Ministries of Finance, Electricity, Oil and Education
  • Grant the Governor of Dhi Qar the necessary powers to oversee the construction of new roads, rehabilitation of water purification plants, and the rehabilitation and maintenance of hospitals and health centres
  • Direct the Ministry of Oil to allocate 500 million dinars annually to the Heart Centre in Dhi Qar and to the local Health Department
  • Direct the Ministry of Communications to allocate 10 billion dinars to Dhi Qar
  • Direct the Ministry of Health to provide hospitals in the province with medical equipment and supplies
  • Direct the Ministry of Education and Scientific Research to follow up on the progress of Al-Shatra University Project which was established in 2013
  • Direct the Agricultural Bank, the Housing Fund and the Industrial Bank to simplify the procedures for granting loans to the people of Dhi Qar because of the exceptional circumstances facing the province
  • Expedite the completion of Dhi Qar Industrial City and Dhi Qar Refinery
  • Expedite the construction of school buildings and hospitals with a high completion rate

The Cabinet also approved several technical and administrative measures related to Dhi Qar aimed at delivering tangible and rapid improvement across a number of key public services.

(Source: Govt of Iraq)

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JGC signs Contract for Basra Refinery Upgrade

By John Lee.

Yesterday (Thursday), the South Refineries Company (SRC) and Iraq's Ministry of Oil (MOO) signed the contract with Japan's JGC Corporation to start construction of a new Fluid Catalytic Cracking (FCC) Complex at Basrah Refinery.

The project is funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)'s ODA (Official Development Assistance) loan project.

The contract ceremony was successfully held at the Governmental Palace with the presence of H.E. Mr. Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismael, Minister of Oil, H.E. Dr. Eng. Khaled Battal Najim Abdullah Al-Jujifi, Minister of Planning, Mr. Husam Hussein Weli, Director General, SRC, Mr. Shu Nakagawa, Charge d'Affaires ad interim, Embassy of Japan in Iraq, Mr. Yutaka Yamazaki, President of JGC Corporation, and Mr. Kei Toyama, Chief Representative of JICA Iraq Office.  At the sideline of the ceremony, H.E. Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi hosted the meeting with the participants.

For this project named "Basrah Refinery Upgrading Project (I)(II)", JICA has so far concluded three loan agreements for:

  1. engineering services loan in the amount of JPY 2,079 million [$20 million];
  2. first tranche loan in the amount of JPY 42,435 million [$403 million]; and,
  3. second tranche loan of JPY 110,000 million [$1.04 billion].

This project is the largest Japanese ODA loan project in Iraq. Under the assistance of JICA's concessional loans (low interest rate at 0.20% and the repayment period of 40 years including 10-year grace period). It is expected to be completed in 2025.

According to a statement from JICA, the project to construct Iraq's first-ever FCC Complex will unleash the potential of Iraq's refining sector to produce the larger volume of the high-value outputs, promote the transfer of refining technologies from Japan and help save valuable foreign currencies to import huge amount of fuels.

It says the new plant will also reduce sulfur content in the oil products in accordance with the international environmental standards, adding:

"The project is expected to pave the way for energizing private sector involvement in the downstream of Iraq's energy industry and provide economic and employment opportunities for the people of Iraq, especially in Basrah.

"JICA looks forward to the collaborative efforts made by Iraqi government and the contractor to overcome every challenge to be encountered during project implementation, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  JICA reaffirms its commitment to making every possible means to support in delivering the project benefits and realizing its effectiveness."

(Source: JICA)

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Eni to Invest $4bn in Iraqi Refinery?

By John Lee.

Italian oil company ENI is reported to be in talks to build a $4-billion, 300,000-bpd refinery near Iraq's Zubair oil field.

S&P Global quotes Oil Minister Ihsan Ismaael [Ahsan Abdul-Jabbar Ismail] as saying that that the first phase, with a capacity of 150,000 bpd, would be operational by 2025.

The Minster reportedly added that the Zubair field, in which Eni holds a stake, is expected to produce 700,000 bpd by 2027.

Click here to read the full article.

(Source: S&P Global)

The post Eni to Invest bn in Iraqi Refinery? first appeared on Iraq Business News.

KfW Bank supports Construction of 4 Hospitals in Iraq

The number of cases of COVID-19-infected persons is also rapidly increasing in Iraq. The peak of the disease is expected in autumn. At least four new hospitals are to be built in the country's largest cities by then.

KfW is financing the construction on behalf of the German government with an initial amount of EUR 15 million. The contract was signed 23 July 2020.

At the end of April lockdown and corona restrictions were lifted in Iraq. Since then the number of cases has risen sharply. A peak in infections is expected in autumn, which will overburden the infrastructure of the health care facilities.

By then, almost 50,000 beds in hospitals, including 12,000 intensive care beds, will be needed for the treatment of COVID-19 patients alone. In Iraq, however, there are only just under 50,000 hospital beds at all, including about 700 intensive care beds.

To support the Iraqi health system KfW is financing the construction of at least four hospitals on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) with an initial EUR 15 million. It is being examined whether further hospitals can be financed in a further phase.

A simulation of the course of infection according to a WHO model showed that the conurbations will suffer the highest case numbers. Therefore, four hospitals are planned in the major cities of Baghdad, Basra, Niniveh and Süleymaniye.

They will initially be built as temporary hospitals in modular prefabricated construction, but in the long term they can serve as regular hospitals. Each hospital will have 100 beds, including 40 intensive care beds. In the short term, more than 7,000 patients will benefit directly. But the separate treatment of COVID-19 patients in separate facilities is beneficial for all patients in the country, because otherwise isolation could not be guaranteed.

"This is a quick and lean response to the pandemic in Iraq, but we have to win the race against time and build the hospitals before case numbers continue to escalate," stresses KfW portfolio manager Moritz Remé. After many years of armed conflict the need for reconstruction in Iraq is particularly high. Income from the oil business has fallen due to the sharp drop in prices in recent months. Help from Germany is therefore urgently needed in Iraq.

(Source: KfW)

UK Drops Unaoil-related Probe into ABB

By John Lee.

The UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has dropped its investigation into ABB linked to the Unaoil case.

After a thorough and detailed review of the available evidence, the SFO concluded that this case did not meet the relevant test for prosecution as defined in the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

The SFO announced its investigation into ABB Ltd in February 2017 following a self-report by representatives acting on behalf of the company.

(Source: UK SFO)

Iraq Considers Reopening Cement Plants

The Higher Committee for Health and National Safety held a meeting in Baghdad on Monday via video conferencing under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Adil Abd Al-Mahdi.

The Committee reviewed and evaluated current measures to combat Covid-19 and received briefings from the Ministry of Health, specialists and officials from relevant ministries.

The Prime Minister commended the high degree of coordination between relevant government departments and the crisis cells across the country, which he said contributed to enabling Iraq to make progress in combating the coronavirus pandemic.

'Odd-even' rule for vehicles:

The Higher Committee decided that, based on even and odd numbered license plates, vehicles will be allowed on roads and public highways on alternate days. This measure comes into force on Tuesday 05 May 2020.

Helping families to return home:

The Higher Committee discussed how to assist families who, because of curfew and restrictions on movements, have been unable to travel between Iraqi provinces to return to their home.

The Committee said it is considering easing some restrictions for one day only to enable these families to return to their home towns, adding that it will make an announcement on this issue soon.

Restarting Iraq's cement plants:

The Higher Committee also discussed plans to restart Iraq's cement manufacturing plants to meet the needs of the local market and to maintain price stability.

Stay at home:

The Higher Committee called on all Iraqis to continue to stay at home, to go out only when absolutely necessary, and to comply with physical distancing rules.

(Source: Govt of Iraq)