The KRG Turns Thirty: The Future of US-Kurdish Relations (Part III)

By James Jeffrey, Matthew Amitrano and Bilal Wahab for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The KRG Turns Thirty: The Future of U.S.-Kurdish Relations in Iraq

Three experts evaluate the KRG's oil and gas industry and discuss the growing urgency of resolving its disputes with Baghdad.

Click here to see the full article and video.

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Schlumberger “Withdraws from Iraqi Kurdistan”

By John Lee.

Schlumberger has reportedly announced its withdrawal from Iraqi Kurdistan, as a result of the Federal Supreme Court ruling that oil contracts signed with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) are unconstitutional.

Sources told the official Iraqi News Agency that the US-based oilfield services company "sent a letter with an official document to the Iraqi Oil Ministry in its commitment to Federal Court Decision No. 59, which includes not dealing with the Kurdistan region regarding the oil file."

The news agency adds that a similar decision was taken previously by Baker Hughes.

Schlumberger has been active at several fields in southern Iraq, drilling 37 oil wells in the Al-Zubair field in Basra, drilling 96 horizontal and diagonal oil wells at the West Qurna 1 field, and drilling 40 new wells at Majnoon oilfield.

(Source: Iraqi News Agency)

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The Necessary US Role in Fixing Baghdad-Kurdistan Energy Dispute

By Michael Knights, for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The Necessary U.S. Role in Fixing the Baghdad-Kurdistan Energy Dispute

On February 15, 2022, Iraq's Federal Supreme Court ruled that the 2007 oil and gas law for the Kurdistan Region was unconstitutional, requiring a review of numerous production sharing contracts and oil sales agreements.

If the case prevents oil exports via Iraqi Kurdistan, then the world market will almost immediately lose 500,000 barrels per day, triggering higher oil prices, expanded windfalls for Russia and Iran, the collapse of Iraqi Kurdistan's economy, and a dangerous turn in Baghdad's ties with Erbil and with Ankara.

In this timely Policy Note, Iraq expert Michael Knights calls for the United States to act with other concerned states to resolve the Baghdad-Erbil energy crisis. In doing so, he categorizes the sub-issues of FSC implementation on a spectrum from higher to lower consensus, and explains both sides' views in an unvarnished, direct manner.

A targeted intervention by the United States and its partners, the author argues, could guide the dispute toward a long-overdue resolution that greatly aids U.S. interests and the global effort to find a substitute for Russian and Iranian oil and gas.

Click here to read the full report.

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Dana Gas suspends Khor Mor Expansion after more Attacks

By John Lee.

Dana Gas has said that following the incident on the 22nd of June, two further small rockets landed within the Khor Mor Block in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

It says there were no injuries or damage.

In a statement to the Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange, the company says that production operations continue as normal, however the work on the KM 250 expansion project has been temporarily suspended while security enhancements are carried out.

It adds:

"The company is closely coordinating with the KRG who along with the Iraqi government have shown strong support.

"As a response to these attacks the KRG has taken all necessary measures to enhance security measures in Khor Mor including the mobilisation of further armed forces to protect the facilities."

(Source: Dana Gas)

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KRG PM ‘deeply troubled’ by attacks on Khor Mor Oilfield

From the Kurdistan Regional Government:

Like citizens across the Kurdistan, I have been deeply troubled by the repeated terror attacks on our people and public infrastructure in recent months. The cowards behind the attacks have resorted to terror tactics because they have lost the court of public opinion in the rest of the country.

Rather than focus on the future, and economic integration to lift all of the country, lawless groups have resorted to rocket attacks on our villages and civilians.

I have spoken by phone with key political partners in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq, and our friends abroad. During my call with Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhimi, I emphasized the need for joint Peshmerga and Iraqi security forces to fill any remaining vacuum in the disputed territories used by lawless groups to recklessly destabilize the whole of the country.

I explained to the Prime Minister that the attacks threaten the country's electricity provision and the investment climate for all the country, and I have urged him to take public, practical measures to rein in the groups.

I have also directed both Ministers of Peshmerga Affairs and Interior to take all measures necessary to protect critical public infrastructure and oil and gas installations. As part of the plan, we have agreed to reinforce the area with additional forces. More measures will be reviewed in the coming days.

Last night, I also spoke with White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk. Our American friends, and every investor must remain committed; we cannot give into fear. Over the next few days, I will urge our international friends and partners, and the UN Security Council to renew efforts with Erbil and Baghdad and explore ways for us both to protect against more terror attack.

The KRG deeply values and will defend and protect investments in its oil and gas sector and all public infrastructure. I have made it clear that an attack anywhere on Kurdistan is an attack on all of Kurdistan and its peoples.

In this moment of national concern, I urge our people to stay resolute. This is a blatant attack on our infrastructure, and part of a concerted effort to deter us from our strategic plans and reform agenda. Our resilience will not be shaken.

Masrour Barzani

Prime Minister of Kurdistan Regional Government

(Source: KRG)

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WHO provides Medical Supplies for recent Cholera Outbreak

WHO Provides Sulaymaniyah with urgent medical supplies to prepare for and respond to the recent Cholera outbreak

The World Health Organization (WHO) dispatched an urgent consignment of medicines and medical supplies to Sulaymaniyah governorate in the (KR-I) to support the Regional Ministry of Health in KR-I step up its response to the sudden cholera outbreak in the region.

The consignment comprised 4 pallets of medicines and medical supplies, including infusion sets, antibiotics, and intravenous fluid (ringer lactate) to cover the needs of a population of approximately 5000 people for a duration of 3 months.

The Minister of Health in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq Dr. Saman Hussain Barzangy attended the handover and expressed concern over the sudden increase in acute diarrhea cases in Sulaymaniyah and a few other Iraqi governorates. "13 Cholera cases were confirmed by the laboratory among which 10 are in Sulaymaniyah. We are following the situation closely and have scaled up surveillance, preparedness and response activities, and hope to be able to contain the outbreak in the coming weeks in close collaboration with WHO and other partners" Dr. Barzangy said.

The Ministry of Health in KR-I is working with the Central Public Health Laboratory (CPHL) and have requested support to test 56 additional samples taken from Sulaymaniyah. As of 20 June 2022, 13 cholera cases from Sulaymaniyah, Kirkuk, and Muthanna, were confirmed by the CPHL.

"The increase in new Cholera cases in Sulaymaniyah and other governorates is a reason for concern for WHO and the MOH, as it is coming on the backdrop of the COVID19 pandemic and other epidemic-prone outbreaks that the country is still battling. However, WHO is committed to supporting the Ministry of Health both in Baghdad and in Kurdistan, to prepare for and respond to this outbreak and lower the impact on the population, including on the vulnerable groups of women, children, and the low-income communities," said Dr. Ahmed Zouiten, WHO Representative and Head of Mission in Iraq.

"We are also calling upon our funding partners, stakeholders, WASH sector, and health cluster members to enhance collaboration with the local health authorities to ensure a proactive and coordinated approach to cholera response across Iraq," Dr. Zouiten added.

It is worth mentioning that cholera is a waterborne bacterial infection that can spread quickly through a population. The disease is primarily contracted by consuming water or food contaminated with the cholera bacteria, Vibrio cholera. It causes uncontrollable diarrhea that, if left untreated, can result in dehydration or death.

(Source: UN)

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Two Injured in Rocket Attack at Khor Mor Gas Field

Dana Gas (PJSC) informs the market that, a small rocket landed yesterday afternoon within the Khor Mor block in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

No damage occurred and production operations continued normally without interruption.

Two contractor staff were treated for minor injuries related to the blast but have returned to work.

The company is cooperating with local security services who are conducting a full investigation and the KRG has enhanced measures and security forces in the area.

(Source: Dana Gas)

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KRG to set up two New Oil Companies

By John Lee.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is reportedly setting up two new companies to manage its energy resources.

A new Kurdistan Regional Oil Company (KROC) is to specialise in oil exploration, and the Kurdistan Oil Marketing Organization (KOMO) will concern itself with marketing of the oil.

The development comes as Erbil and Baghdad continue to vie for control of the oil industry in Iraqi Kurdistan.

More here and here.

(Sources: Reuters, Shafaaq)

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KRG files Civil suit against Baghdad Minister of Oil

By John Lee.

The Minister of Natural Resources of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has filed a civil suit against the Baghdad Minister of Oil, accusing him of sending emails and letters with the intention of intimidating international oil companies (IOCs) and interfering with the contractual rights of the IOCs and the KRG.

The KRG has also filed a criminal complaint against a Director General in the Baghdad Ministry of Oil for allegedly abusing his power and position by intimidating and harassing the IOCs working in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

This follows a series of summonses issued to the IOCs by a court in Baghdad, relating to their operations in Kurdistan Region.

Full statement from the KRG:

On 19 May 2022, a commercial court sitting in Al Karkh, Baghdad, acted at the request of the Minister of Oil in Baghdad and purported to issue summonses to international oil companies (IOCs) operating within the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Those IOCs - which include Addax, DNO, Genel, Gulf Keystone, HKN, Shamaran, and WesternZagros - operate in the Kurdistan Region in accordance with the Kurdistan Region's Oil and Gas Law (No. 22 of 2007), which was issued by the Kurdistan Regional Government in accordance with its powers under the Constitution of Iraq.

These court summonses are the latest in a series of illegal actions taken by the Minister of Oil and his staff under the current caretaker government in Baghdad. These illegal actions are apparently based upon a ruling by a court in Baghdad that calls itself the "Federal Supreme Court". This so-called "Federal Supreme Court" issued a politically motivated decision on 15 February 2022, which purported to declare the 2007 Oil and Gas Law void.

No court in Baghdad has the authority to make such a declaration. On 28 February 2022, the President of the Kurdistan Region, together with the presidents of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the Kurdistan Regional Government, issued a statement rejecting the 15 February decision. On 4 June 2022, the Judicial Council, the highest judicial institution in the Kurdistan Region, issued a statement upholding the validity of the 2007 Oil and Gas Law. The Council noted that Article 92(2) of the Constitution of Iraq requires that the Iraqi Council of Representatives pass a law to establish an Iraqi Federal Supreme Court. No such law has ever been enacted. Iraq, therefore, does not have a constitutionally established Federal Supreme Court. The court that issued the 15 February 2022 opinion purporting to invalidate the 2007 Oil and Gas Law has no constitutional authority to do so. On the contrary, the issuance of the 2007 Oil and Gas Law was entirely authorised under the Constitution of Iraq. As such, legally, the Oil and Gas Law remains in full force.

On 2 June 2022, the Kurdistan Regional Government filed a criminal complaint against a Director General in the Baghdad Ministry of Oil for abusing his power and position by intimidating and harassing the IOCs working in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. In the view of the Kurdistan Regional Government, emails and letters sent to the IOCs undertaking work in the Kurdistan Region by that Director General were sent with the intention of intimidating the IOCs and interfering with the contractual rights of the IOCs and the Kurdistan Regional Government. The contracts entered into between the IOCs and the Kurdistan Regional Government are entirely in accordance with the 2007 Oil and Gas Law.

On 5 June 2022, the Erbil Court of Investigation ruled that the lawsuits filed in the Al Karkh commercial court against the IOCs must be brought to the Erbil Court to be examined as evidence in this criminal complaint. The Erbil Court also ruled that any lawsuits in the Al Karkh court must be delayed for this purpose, and that named criminal defendants, including the Baghdad Minister of Oil, must attend the criminal hearing in Erbil on 22 June 2022. Iraqi law (Article 26 of Criminal Procedural Law No. 23 of the year 1979) requires that civil proceedings cannot take place while a related criminal investigation is underway. In addition, Article 38 of Civil Procedural Law No. 83 of the year 1969 states that any civil proceeding against the IOCs must take place in the Kurdistan Region, where the IOCs are registered and operate.

Furthermore, on 5 June 2022 the Minister of Natural Resources of the Kurdistan Regional Government filed a civil suit against the Baghdad Minister of Oil. In the view of the Kurdistan Regional Government, the Minister is liable under applicable civil law provisions for sending emails and letters with the intention of intimidating the IOCs and interfering with the contractual rights of the IOCs and the Kurdistan Regional Government.

(Source: KRG Ministry of Natural Resources)

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Genel Energy CEO Steps Down

Genel Energy has announced that after discussions with the Board following the recent AGM, at which Bill Higgs did not receive the required 50% majority of votes in favour of re-election as a Director, he has agreed to step down as CEO of the Company with immediate effect.

Dr Higgs will take up a role as Special Advisor to the Chairman until 1 September 2022, to support an orderly transition, after which he will remain as a consultant to the Company.

Paul Weir, COO, has been appointed as Interim CEO with immediate effect. A search for a suitable replacement is now ongoing and an announcement will be made in due course.

Paul joined Genel in January 2020, having worked for more than 30 years in upstream E&P with experience in the North Sea, South East Asia and Africa. Before joining Genel, Paul was Group Head of Operations and Safety at Tullow Oil, having previously spent 13 years at Talisman as VP Production and Exploration, and also worked in a variety of roles at Nippon Oil, Elf, Occidental, and Total.

David McManus, Chair, said:

"Bill worked tirelessly at Genel and oversaw a positive change in the strategic direction, operational capability, and culture of the Company. He steps down as CEO with Genel well positioned to utilise our robust balance sheet and material cash generation to fund growth and underpin our material and progressive dividend for the long-term.

"Paul has been a key contributor to the transition of Genel into an operator with interests in more producing assets than any other IOC in Kurdistan, and, given his longstanding operational experience with a range of world class companies, is perfectly placed to lead the team as it seeks to progress its next phase of growth."

(Source: Genel Energy)

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