KRG issues new COVID-19 regulations

The Kurdistan Region's High Committee for Combating COVID-19 met on Tuesday and issued the following directives as part of the Kurdistan Regional Government's efforts to curb the spread of the pandemic:

  1. The vaccination deadline for public service employees (civil and military) will be extended to 20 January 2022. Any employee who fails to adhere to the directives will face disciplinary measures according to general health laws.
  2. COVID-19 tests will be administered at border crossings to people entering the Kurdistan Region, including those with COVID-19 Vaccination Cards. Entrance will only be given to those who can provide a negative result from a valid COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours of arrival.
  3. The Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs will issue special regulations regarding funerals in the Kurdistan Region, in coordination with relevant administrations.
  4. Tourist groups must provide negative results from a valid COVID-19 test within 48-hour of arrival or present valid Vaccination Cards.
  5. All citizens, regardless of their vaccination status, must wear a mask when indoors for any public space (e.g., Government offices, businesses, restaurants, banks, and others) and adhere to social distancing regulations.
  6. Starting 1 February 2022, entrance to public spaces (e.g., Government offices, stores, restaurants, malls, event halls, businesses, and others) will be denied to those who cannot produce a negative result from a valid test taken within the past 48 hours or a COVID-19 Vaccination Card.

(Source: KRG)

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Results of Iraq Women Integrated Social and Health Survey

Ministry of Planning, UNFPA launch results of the second Iraq Women Integrated Social and Health Survey

The Ministry of Planning, the Central Statistical Organization and UNFPA have launched the results of the second Iraq Women Integrated Social and Health (IWISH) survey, conducted in collaboration with the Ministry of Planning at the Kurdistan Regional Government - Kurdistan Region Statistics Office and with funding from Sweden.

The survey addresses women issues throughout all ages and covers various sectors such as women empowerment, health, reproductive health, violence against women and other relevant social and health dimensions to establish a comprehensive database.

It offers integrated data that identifies the progress made and the gaps in the economic, social, and health situation of women in Iraq in comparison to the results of IWISH I, conducted ten years ago.

Speaking at the event, Dr Maher Johan, Deputy Minister of Planning, emphasised the importance of data and statistics in programming and policy development, reiteration the Ministry's determination to conduct the Population & Housing Census before the end of 2022:

"Evidence-based policies are the only way for us to achieve our commitments to the International Conference on Population & Development in Nairobi and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals".

Dr Rita Columbia, UNFPA Representative to Iraq, commented on the survey, saying:

"UNFPA will continue to provide technical assistance in collecting, analysing and using reliable population data to ensure girls and women's rights and needs are a priority for the Government of Iraq. The findings will enable the development of people-centred policies enabling women to have equal opportunities and exercise their reproductive rights".

Highlights of the IWISH results can be found through this link and presentation in Arabic.

(Source: UN)

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KRG hits back at Genel Energy Claims

By John Lee.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has responded to the statement on Friday by Genel Energy regarding the production-sharing contracts (PSCs) at Bina Bawi and Miran.

The KRG strongly denies that it is in repudiatory breach of the PSCs, and denies that Genel is entitled to any compensation.

It adds that it will vigorously defend any claim that is brought by Genel, and intends to pursue its own counterclaims for damages resulting from Genel's renunciation of the PSCs.

The full statement from KRG follows:

On 10 December 2021, the Kurdistan Regional Government received a letter from a subsidiary of Genel Energy plc ("Genel"). In this letter, Genel confirmed that it did not intend to continue to perform its obligations under the Bina Bawi and Miran PSCs, and purported to terminate the PSCs with immediate effect. The Government understands that Genel Energy plc has made the same assertions in a public press release dated 10 December 2021.

Genel's letter and the related press release were prompted by the Government's issuance on 5 December 2021 of formal Notices of Termination, which validly terminated the PSCs subject only to the completion of the dispute resolution process set out in the PSCs.

Genel has sought to justify its termination of the PSCs by wrongly asserting that the Government is in repudiatory breach. The Government strongly denies that it is in repudiatory breach of the PSCs. Genel has also falsely claimed that the Government stated it would not perform its obligations under the PSCs. On the contrary, the Government has always acted in accordance with its obligations under the PSCs, and has consistently communicated the same to Genel.

However, Genel's 10 December 2021 communication confirmed unequivocally that Genel had renounced the PSCs, and the Government has therefore confirmed today to Genel that the PSCs are validly terminated with immediate effect.

The Government regrets that Genel has failed to offer any credible proposals to develop the Bina Bawi and Miran oil and gas fields, and notes that this failure has significantly delayed the ability of the Government to develop those fields on a timely basis.

The Government also notes Genel's public statement that it will pursue a substantial claim in international arbitration from the Government as a consequence of the termination of the PSCs. The Government strongly denies that Genel is entitled to any compensation. The Government will vigorously defend any claim that is brought by Genel, and intends to pursue its own counterclaims for damages resulting from Genel's renunciation of the PSCs.

(Source: KRG)

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Genel Energy to Claim Compensation from KRG

Shares in Genel Energy opened down more than five percent on Friday morning, before recovering some ground, after the company said it will claim compensation from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

It says the claims, which relate to KRG's intention to terminate the Bina Bawi and Miran production sharing contracts (PSCs) are "substantial", and will be brought in a London-based international arbitration.

The statement from the company this morning:

Genel Energy plc ('Genel') provides the following update on the Bina Bawi and Miran Production Sharing Contracts ('PSCs').

Further to Genel's announcement of 20 August 2021 that notices of intention to terminate the Bina Bawi and Miran PSCs had been received from the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Kurdistan Regional Government ('KRG'), Genel has received from the KRG formal notices purporting to terminate the PSCs. The KRG has also stated that, pending resolution of the dispute as to whether such notices are effective to terminate the PSCs, it will not perform those obligations under the PSCs that would enable Genel to progress the development of the Bina Bawi and Miran fields. 

Since entering into the PSCs in February 2017, Genel has made every effort to engage with the KRG on the development of the Bina Bawi and Miran fields and has submitted numerous development proposals to the KRG for its approval. However, the KRG has for some time made clear its intention not to permit the development of the fields in accordance with the terms of the PSCs.

In these circumstances, the Board has concluded that it is left with no practical alternative but to accept that the PSCs are terminated as a consequence of the KRG's repudiatory breach and to claim compensation from the KRG. Genel's claims are substantial and will be brought in a London seated international arbitration to be commenced in accordance with the disputes process set out in the PSCs.

Genel has a long and constructive relationship with the KRG, and continues to work with the KRG on the development of our other assets, as we look to deliver our mutual goal of increasing production in the KRI for the benefit of all stakeholders.

Genel will update the market on future developments.

Following the termination of the PSCs, the balances associated with holding title to these PSCs will be derecognised and therefore removed from the balance sheet.

(Source: Genel Energy)

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Deloitte Report on Kurdistan Region Oil and Gas

Deloitte report on Oil and Gas review in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region - Q1 and Q2 of 2021

The KRG has published the reports containing verified statistics covering the Kurdistan Region's oil exports, consumption and revenues for covering period 1 January 2021 to 30 June 2021.

During the first half of 2021, the KRG exported 77.35 million barrels through Kurdistan Export Pipeline. In addition, 3.95 million barrels were allocated to local refineries. Of the exported crude oil, 76.869 million barrels were lifted by the buyers from Ceyhan Export Terminal, at an average price of 53.446 $/bbl.

The KRG has generated revenues of USD 4.1 billion from crude oil export sales during the first half of 2021. After making payments to oil producers, pipeline operators, and repayments to the buyers, the KRG retained net revenues from crude oil sales of US$ 1.737 billion.

The KRG is has engaged in discussions with international buyers and oil producers in continuing its efforts to maximize sales prices and reduce production costs to maximize value for the people of Kurdistan.

Transparency is central to the cabinet's agenda. The report, available in Kurdish, English and Arabic, provides a quarterly analysis of oil export information and average prices which have been independently reviewed and verified by Deloitte.

The KRG acknowledges the positive feedback received from domestic and international stakeholders. The council reiterates its commitment to the people of Kurdistan that Deloitte will continue to independently review and verify the statistics of the Kurdistan Region's oil and gas sector.

A frequently asked questions handbook (also available in Kurdish, English and Arabic) has also been developed to help readers to understand the report's contents.

Click here to download the reports.

(Source: KRG)

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KRG PM meets President of the Iraq Britain Business Council

The Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Masrour Barzani, on Saturday met Baroness Emma Nicholson, President of the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC).

Prime Minister Barzani highlighted the reforms of the ninth cabinet, its bid to diversify the economy and crucially to make the Kurdistan Region a focal point for business.

Baroness Nicholson gave a briefing on the council's work, especially its last conference which was held in Dubai and which concentrated on developing UK, Iraq, and Kurdistan Region trade relations.

(Source: KRG)

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DNO reports Third Quarter 2021 Results

DNO ASA, the Norwegian oil and gas operator, today reported third quarter revenues of USD 253 million, a 38 percent quarter-on-quarter increase driven by higher North Sea sales and strengthening commodity prices.

The Company's operating profit climbed seven percent to USD 65 million, weighed down by non-cash net impairments of USD 40 million primarily related to revised Ula area cost and production profiles in the North Sea.

Cash flow from operating activities totaled USD 163 million in the third quarter. Net debt was reduced by USD 36 million to USD 360 million, the lowest level since 2018.

"Like much of the rest of our resilient industry, we are recovering rapidly from the early ravaging of the oil and gas markets by the runaway pandemic," said DNO's Executive Chairman Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani. "We are back delivering value to our host countries, shareholders and other partners in an efficient and responsible manner," he added.

Gross operated production at the Company's flagship Tawke license in Kurdistan averaged 105,200 barrels of oil per day (bopd) in the third quarter, of which the Peshkabir field contributed 59,900 bopd and the Tawke field 45,300 bopd. Of the total, 78,900 bopd were net to DNO. In the North Sea, net production averaged 13,100 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), bringing the Company's total third quarter net production to 92,000 boepd.

DNO's USD 110 million Peshkabir-Tawke gas project, which was commissioned in mid-2020, has injected eight billion cubic feet of otherwise flared gas through the end of the third quarter, capturing 480,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent. In September, the Company initiated a USD 25 million second phase of the gas capture project to reinject and retain gas in the Tawke reservoir and avoid flaring. Having already eliminated routine venting of methane in operations in 2019, DNO recently launched a leak detection and repair initiative to measure, monitor and mitigate fugitive methane emissions.

Elsewhere in Kurdistan, commerciality was declared on the DNO-operated Baeshiqa license and plans submitted for a fast-track development.

DNO's active North Sea exploration program notched up a success in the third quarter with appraisal drilling on the 2020 Bergknapp discovery (DNO 30 percent) resulting in a 35 percent upgrade of DNO's recoverable resource estimate. Also during the quarter, DNO made an oil discovery on the Gomez prospect (DNO 65 percent and operator). Due to uncertainty of producibility, no estimate of recoverable volumes has been established pending further analysis. Another third quarter 2021 appraisal well, Black Vulture (DNO 32 percent), was dry. Following the end of the quarter, the Mugnetind exploration well (DNO 30 percent) encountered limited hydrocarbons and is unlikely to be commercial.

The Brasse development (DNO 50 percent and operator) is on track for a 2022 project sanction with DNO recently entering into a strategic framework agreement with Technip FMC covering subsea deliveries (SURF and SPS).

During the third quarter, the Company completed the placement of USD 400 million of new five-year senior unsecured bonds with at a coupon rate of 7.875 percent, lowering DNO's average interest rate on its debt while extending the maturity profile.

A videoconference call with executive management will follow today at 15:00 (CET). Please visit www.dno.no to access the call.

(Source: DNO)

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Shares in Genel Energy fall as KRG to Terminate Contracts

By John Lee.

Shares in Genel Energy fell more than 15 percent in mid-morning trading after the company announced that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) intends to terminate its contracts at Bina Bawi and Miran.

In a statement, the company said:

"Genel has received notice from the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Kurdistan Regional Government ('KRG') of its intention to terminate the Bina Bawi and Miran PSCs. 

"Genel believes that the KRG has no grounds for issuing its notices of intention to terminate. 

"Genel wishes to continue operations under the PSCs and to work with the KRG on the development of these fields. However, Genel will take steps to protect its rights under the PSCs and, if necessary, seek compensation, including for its material investment. As a first step, Genel intends to issue notice of dispute to the KRG under each PSC, contesting the right of the KRG to issue any such termination notice and, in doing so, trigger an obligation to hold good faith negotiations to resolve this matter promptly and without the need for either party to refer the matter to international arbitration.

"As stated at our half-year results, Genel has found it difficult to engage the KRG under the PSCs to obtain the necessary approvals to proceed with the development of the assets, and every effort has been made to obtain these so that the projects can be progressed. Genel had earlier reached a commercial understanding with the KRG in September 2019 to develop the fields using a staged and integrated oil and gas development concept. In the course of those negotiations leading to updated terms of the parties' agreements, the KRG confirmed to Genel that it would not serve notice of intention to terminate the PSCs while these negotiations remain ongoing. Genel has subsequently prepared and submitted proposals to the KRG, which honoured the terms agreed in September 2019, each of which would have resulted in the progression of development of the assets."

(Sources: Genel Energy, Yahoo!)

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KRG Approves DNO Purchase of Exxon Stake in Baeshiqa

By John Lee.

DNO ASA, the Norwegian oil and gas operator, today announced that the Kurdistan Regional Government has approved the Company's acquisition of ExxonMobil's remaining 32 percent interest in the Baeshiqa license, doubling DNO's stake.

In parallel, commerciality has been declared on the license with plans submitted for fast-track development including early production from previously drilled but suspended wells.

DNO has already demonstrated proof of concept of producing these wells through temporary test facilities, having trucked some 15,000 barrels of 40 degree API and 22 degree API oil for export in 2019 and 2020 from the Baeshiqa-2 and Zartik-1 discovery wells.

Following the transaction, the joint venture comprises DNO as operator with a 64 percent (80 percent paying) interest, the Turkish Energy Company (TEC) with a 16 percent (20 percent paying) interest and the Kurdistan Regional Government with a 20 percent carried interest.

Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani, DNO's Executive Chairman, said:

"This acquisition and plans for fast-track development underscore our belief in the potential of the Baeshiqa license and more broadly our long-term commitment to Kurdistan.

"Once we get the green light from the authorities to proceed, first production will be a matter of months rather than years."

DNO's 3,204 meters discovery well, Baeshiqa-2, tested hydrocarbons to surface from multiple stacked Jurassic and Triassic zones. Two zones flowed naturally at rates averaging over 3,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd) of light gravity oil each and another averaged over 1,000 bopd also of light gravity oil. DNO drilled Zartik-1, the second discovery well, 16 kilometers to the southeast of Baeshiqa-2, to a depth of 3,021 meters. This well tested hydrocarbons to surface from several Jurassic zones, with one zone flowing naturally at rates averaging 2,000 bopd of medium gravity oil.

DNO acquired its first 32 percent interest and assumed operatorship of the Baeshiqa license from ExxonMobil in 2018. As consideration for both acquisitions DNO has covered ExxonMobil's share of exploration costs since January 2019 and the seller will receive payment of USD 15 million.

In addition to the 327-square kilometer Baeshiqa license, DNO operates the Tawke license containing the Tawke and Peshkabir fields in Kurdistan. Combined production from these fields averaged 110,300 bopd in the second quarter of 2021.

(Source: DNO)

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KRG Bureaucracy Delays DNO Investment

DNO ASA, the Norwegian oil and gas operator, has reported operating profit of USD 61 million in the quarter ending 30 June 2021, its second consecutive profitable quarter since the onset of the COVID pandemic. Revenues totaled USD 184 million, up USD 14 million from the previous quarter, as higher oil and gas prices more than compensated for lower North Sea volumes sold.

Gross operated production at the Company's flagship Tawke license in Kurdistan averaged 110,300 barrels of oil per day (bopd) in the second quarter, of which the Peshkabir field contributed 63,000 bopd and the Tawke field 47,300 bopd. Of the total, 82,700 bopd were net to DNO's interest during the quarter.

DNO's North Sea net production dropped to 9,900 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) in the second quarter, primarily due to planned summer maintenance shutdowns at Marulk and Alve and infill drilling at Ula and Tambar. The Company expects the North Sea contribution to average 13,000 boepd for the year.

In the wake of an ongoing reorganization of Kurdistan's Ministry of Natural Resources, the Company has experienced extended delays to the final approval of its 2021 Tawke field work program and budget as well as to the approvals necessary to fast track early production from the Baeshiqa license. The delays are expected to defer USD 50 million in 2021 DNO net spending in Kurdistan which could have generated up to 15,000 bopd gross production across DNO's three operated fields (Tawke, Peshkabir and Baeshiqa) going into 2022.

With no new wells coming on production at the Tawke field in more than a year, the natural production decline has been partially offset by pressure support from reinjection of over 20 million cubic feet of gas per day from the Peshkabir field in addition to workovers and interventions of existing wells.

"We are eager to invest and produce more oil in Kurdistan," said DNO's executive chairman Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani. "In nearly two decades of operations in Kurdistan, DNO has confronted and overcome multiple challenges and we are well positioned to continue to do so," he added.

In the North Sea, DNO maintains an active drilling program in 2021, including two appraisal wells on previous discoveries and three exploration wells, the first of which has been drilled leading to a discovery. In addition, the Company plans 10 development wells this year.

Recently, the DNO-operated Brasse project selected the Equinor-operated Oseberg facilities as the preferred development host. With total field reserves of 35 million boe and a relatively modest topside construction scope on Oseberg, Brasse has robust project economics based on a 2022 project sanction target.

With an operational cash flow of USD 160 million, an increase of 135 percent from the first quarter, the Company reduced its bond debt to USD 700 million through a USD 100 million partial bond redemption. DNO exited the quarter with a net interest-bearing debt of USD 396 million, the lowest level since yearend 2018.

DNO received USD 159 million in the second quarter from Kurdistan, up from USD 75 million in the first quarter of 2021. Additional payments this week bring the total 2021 receipts from Kurdistan to USD 290 million year-to-date. The arrears built up as a result of Kurdistan's withholding of payment of certain invoices to DNO in 2019 and 2020 total USD 214 million, excluding any interest.

(Source: DNO)

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