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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Scramble to Contain new Animal Virus Outbreak

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

Iraqi health authorities scramble to contain new animal virus outbreak

Viral hemorrhagic fever is spread by contact with animals and can constitute a "public health emergency of international concern."

Click here to read the full article.

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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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Iran “Ready to Export Technical, Engineering Services to Iraq”

By John Lee.

The CEO of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) has said that Iran is ready to export technical and engineering services to Iraq.

Addressing a meeting of the Joint Working Group on Iran-Iraq Oil Cooperation, Mohsen Khojastehmehr, said:

"Iran wants to benefit from Iraq's participation in the development of the oil and gas industry ...

"It is time for Iran and Iraq to take practical steps to cooperate in the field of oil and gas activities and the scientific, technological and educational sectors."

The Iraqi delegation to the meeting was led by Deputy Minister of Oil, Bassem Mohammad Khedir,

(Source: Shana)

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Economic Diversification and Energy Transition in Iraq and the Gulf

From The Middle East Institute. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Economic Diversification and Energy Transition in Iraq and the Gulf

Iraq is in the midst of an unprecedented economic crisis as it grapples with a volatile post-election political environment and continued social unrest. The onset of the pandemic two years ago combined with the subsequent decline in oil prices to create added economic pressures for a state that remains highly oil-dependent and a society that is overwhelmingly dependent on the public sector for employment.

The country's inability to provide jobs and services for its predominantly young population has sparked a protest movement that has added urgency to the need for major reforms. Meanwhile, the growing threat of climate change and climate-induced socio-economic challenges have raised the specter of an existential crisis, one that could potentially be hastened by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the resulting impact on food security.

And while other Gulf oil exporters are reaping the benefit of a windfall in revenues by spring 2022, disputes over revenue sharing and the ability to catalyze domestic spending and investment continue to weaken recovery prospects for all of Iraq.

To identify pathways to deal with demands for economic reform and volatility in resource revenue, in November 2021 the Middle East Institute (MEI) and Iraq Policy Group (IPG) convened a high-level workshop on the side-lines of the American University of Kurdistan's annual Middle East Peace and Security Forum, bringing together decision-makers in Baghdad, Erbil, and the wider region, as well as practitioners, scholars, and the private sector to examine the country's prospects for addressing its short- and long-term economic challenges as Baghdad and Erbil embark on ambitious reform agendas.

This included discussions and debates on plans to diversify their economies away from fossil fuel dependency, the progress of reforms, regional policy goals on net zero at 2050, and the wider lessons that Erbil and Baghdad could draw from the Gulf region.

This report provides the insights and analyses of a select group of participants, and forms part of a series of forthcoming Iraq- and Gulf-focused reports and initiatives that MEI and IPG will be convening.

Click here to read the full article.

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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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GKP Shares lower following update

Ahead of Friday's 2022 Annual General Meeting ("AGM"), Gulf Keystone Petroleum (GKP), provided an operational and corporate update.

Shares in the company closed down 4.4 percent.

Jon Harris, Gulf Keystone's Chief Executive Officer, said:

"Following a year of strong operational and financial performance in 2021, our leverage to the oil price, low-cost production base and focus on capital discipline have continued to drive significant cash flow generation from the Shaikan Field in 2022. We have declared sector-leading dividends of $190 million year to date, $75 million of which is subject to shareholder vote at today's AGM, while continuing to invest in the high growth potential of the Shaikan Field. We also remain focused on maintaining a robust balance sheet and today we are pleased to announce our intention to call the $100 million outstanding bond, leaving the Company debt free.

"Year to date production has averaged c.44,900 bopd. We are prudently managing our wells to avoid traces of water and, as a result, we are tightening 2022 gross production guidance to 44,000 - 47,000 bopd. The installation of water handling facilities will unlock upside production potential and we continue to explore acceleration options in a supply constrained market. In the near-term, we continue to progress our well workover and intervention programme to optimise production. While timing of approval remains uncertain, we also continue to make positive progress on the FDP as we prepare to resume drilling and ramp up production.

 "Ahead of our AGM later today, I would like to thank our shareholders, employees and other stakeholders in Kurdistan for their continued commitment and support. Together, we are focused on safely delivering the significant value of the Shaikan Field."

Operational

  • Continued strong focus on safety, with no Lost Time Incident ("LTI") recorded for over 240 days
  • Gross average production in 2022 year to date of c.44,900 bopd; gross average production in June of c.45,900 bopd, as at 22 June 2022
  • Year to date gross average production impacted by:
    • SH-12 reperforated and brought back online in June at a reduced rate after being shut-in at the beginning of the year
    • SH-14 production remains constrained following acid stimulation earlier in the year
    • SH-15 brought online in April after being drilled in record time and is currently producing towards the lower end of the anticipated range
  • While the industry is currently experiencing equipment lead time pressures in a supply constrained market, we are continuing to review options to accelerate installation of water handling facilities that would enable further production ramp up from existing wells
  • Progressing well workover and intervention programme to optimise near-term production

Financial 

  • Significant cash flow generation in 2022 year to date, with $348.8 million ($273.1 million net to GKP) received from the Kurdistan Regional Government ("KRG") for crude oil sales and revenue arrears. The outstanding arrears balance has been fully recovered
  • $190 million of dividends declared in 2022, a sector-leading dividend yield of 26% based on GKP's closing price on 22 June 2022
    • $115 million paid to shareholders to date; additional $75 million, including the previously declared ordinary and special dividends, to be paid in July following approval at AGM
  • Robust balance sheet, with a cash balance of $247.0 million at 23 June 2022

Outlook 

  • Tightened 2022 gross average production guidance to 44,000 - 47,000 bopd
  • Gross Opex guidance of $2.9-$3.3/bbl remains unchanged
  • Net capital expenditure guidance of $85-$95 million remains unchanged
  • While timing of FDP approval remains uncertain, we continue to progress towards sanction with the MNR. The Company is preparing to resume drilling to ramp-up production from the Jurassic reservoir and will update capital expenditure guidance in due course
  • We continue to monitor the long running dispute between the Federal Iraqi Government and the KRG on the management of oil and gas assets in Kurdistan. Our operations currently remain unaffected and we continue to work closely with the KRG, our advisers and other stakeholders to protect the Company's interests
  • Remain focused on balancing investment in growth with shareholder returns, while preserving adequate liquidity:
    • Intention to call $100 million bond after the step down in July 2022 of the call premium from 4% to 2% of principal
    • Assuming timely payment of invoices and strong oil prices, we expect continuing robust cash flow generation in 2022 providing flexibility to consider further shareholder distributions and an increase in capital expenditure to resume drilling

:

Update on ordinary and special dividend per share rate

Gulf Keystone will be seeking shareholder approval at today's AGM to pay total dividends of $75 million, comprising the $25 million annual ordinary dividend declared on 30 March 2022 and the $50 million special dividend declared on 25 May 2022.

  • The annual ordinary dividend of $25 million is equivalent to 11.56 US cents per Common Share of the Company and is expected to be paid on 15 July 2022, based on a record date of 1 July 2022
  • The special dividend of $50 million is equivalent to 23.12 US cents per Common Share of the Company and is expected to be paid on 29 July 2022, based on a record date of 15 July 2022

The Company will disclose the pounds sterling rate per share for both dividends prior to their payment dates.

Update on Iraqi Federal Supreme Court ("FSC") Ruling

Further to Gulf Keystone's disclosure in its Annual Report and Accounts for the year ended 31 December 2021 regarding the FSC ruling, the Iraqi Ministry of Oil recently commenced legal proceedings with respect to the validity of Production Sharing Contracts ("PSCs") issued under the Kurdistan Region of Iraq Oil and Gas Law, an escalation in the long running dispute between the Federal Iraqi Government and the KRG on the management of oil and gas assets in Kurdistan. The Company has been advised that the Iraqi Ministry of Oil has raised a case in the Baghdad Commercial Court against several IOCs, including Gulf Keystone. Gulf Keystone also understands that the Iraqi Ministry of Oil has also written to contractors and service providers requesting them to cease working in Kurdistan.

Gulf Keystone notes the KRG's public assertion that the actions taken by the Iraqi Ministry of Oil are unlawful and that "it will take all constitutional, legal, and judicial measures to protect and preserve all contracts made in the oil and gas sector". Further, on 4 June 2022, the Judicial Council of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq stated that the Kurdistan Region of Iraq Oil and Gas Law "remains in full force" and that the Iraq Federal Supreme Court "lacks the constitutional authority" to invalidate the Law. Also, on 13 June 2022, the Ministry of Natural Resources stated that "the contracts entered into between the IOCs and the Kurdistan Regional Government are entirely in accordance with the 2007 Oil and Gas Law". The Company notes that the KRG has itself launched criminal and civil lawsuits which seek to protect the validity of the PSCs.

The Company continues to work closely with the KRG, its advisers and other stakeholders to protect its interests and will provide further updates on the matter as and when it is able and necessary to do so, recognising that this is a live legal matter and Gulf Keystone is not party to the resolution discussions between the Federal Iraqi Government and the KRG.

Gulf Keystone's operations currently remain unaffected.

(Source: GKP)

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BGC Exports first Semi-Refrigerated LPG Shipment

By John Lee.

Basrah Gas Company (BGC) has exported its first semi-refrigerated liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) shipment from Umm Qasr jetty.

The General Manager of BGC, Malcolm Mays, said the export of the first shipment of semi-refrigerated liquid gas is a great and historical achievement for Basra Gas Company, noting that this came as a result of working hard and continuously to achieve the strategic goal by rehabilitating Umm Qasr jetty and equipping it with chiller units to be used in export operations.

He added that BGC is able to load and export both types of liquid gas: pressurized and semi-refrigerated, through vessels, saying that this step gives the flexibility and the opportunity to triple exports globally via tankers, as it will double the exported quantity per shipment.

(Source: Ministry of Oil)

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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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