FAO, WFP support Sustainable Livelihoods in Iraq

Today on World Food Day, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) renewed their commitment to supporting the government of Iraq in ensuring that all Iraqis have food security by 2030, with a focus on nutritious food and sustainable livelihoods.

“World Food Day is when we confirm and work to achieve our commitment towards Zero Hunger. In Iraq, FAO will be further cooperating with WFP to provide capacity development and rural income generation programmes for farmers.

FAO is supporting the rehabilitation of water infrastructure, value chains development, the fishery sector and introducing smart agriculture practices in response to country priorities and climate change impact,” said FAO Representative in Iraq Dr. Salah El Hajj Hassan.

The 2019 Memorandum of Understanding between FAO and WFP fosters closer collaboration on longer-term initiatives. Activities will include restoring irrigation canals, instituting sustainable practices such as planting productive trees, and providing inputs such as seeds and tools.

Through such programmes, vulnerable people will receive an income, can get back to work following displacement due to conflict, and continue to farm and grow their own food.

As well as enhanced nutrition awareness for Iraqi citizens, in the coming year, climate change adaptation will be a priority so that communities are better able to recover from climate-related shocks. FAO and WFP are striving to build social cohesion through collective livelihoods rehabilitation. WFP recently reopened its office in Basra to help coordinate activities next year in the south, where vulnerability and poverty indicators are worst.

“In this rehabilitation phase, FAO and WFP are working on livelihoods projects to bring communities together, and contribute to improving long-term self-sufficiency,” said Abdirahman Meygag, WFP Iraq Representative. “We see our climate change adaptation activities as being crucial for food security and the country’s recovery.”

FAO and WFP will also share expertise on information management and assessments, for evidence-based programming that targets the most vulnerable. Programmes are designed together with the government, for and with communities. The two agencies will also coordinate with partners on livelihoods activities, to maximise income-generating opportunities for those in most need.

(Source: UN)

Iraq, China launch ‘Oil for Reconstruction’ agreement

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

When Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi led a delegation to China in September, Baghdad and Beijing activated an “oil for reconstruction” and investment program. Under the arrangement, Chinese firms work in Iraq in exchange for 100,000 barrels per day.

Iraq has said it needs more than $88 billion to develop and mend its rickety infrastructure after three years of combating the Islamic State (IS).

Speaking to the press, Abdul Mahdi said that, including this new deal, about 20% of Iraq’s daily oil production is being exported to China.

Click here to read the full story.

AirBaltic Expands UK Footprint

Latvian carrier airBaltic has announced plans to fly between Manchester and Riga. The new scheduled services are due to launch on March 29, and will mark the airline’s third UK destination after London/Gatwick and a seasonal operation to Aberdeen. The link is designed to offer convenient connections to passengers flying not only to the Latvian capital, but also to 70 onward destinations across Scandinavia, Russia, and the Middle East. The development boosts competition on the route, with low-cost giant Ryanair already linking the two cities using Boeing 737-800 examples.

The nonstop routing from Manchester will operate four-times weekly and be served using the carrier’s new Airbus A220-300 aircraft. AirBaltic has one of the world’s largest fleets of the narrowbody jet, which represents one of the greenest in its class alongside wider seats and larger windows when compared with its competitors.

Martin Gauss, airBaltic chief executive officer commented on the Latvian capital’s appeal for inbound visitors: “Riga is a dynamic city and a key business centre of the Baltic states and has a lot to offer to both business and leisure travellers. It is also a very convenient transfer point with excellent connections within our wide route network.”

Photo: airBaltic

Traffic on the Riga-based carrier’s existing UK routes continues to grow, with 17% more passengers expected in 2019 than last year – of these, almost a fifth of travellers are transferring onwards. Data from the airline suggests the other Baltic capitals of Tallinn and Vilnius are popular final destinations, along with Helsinki and Turku in Finland, and Moscow and St Petersburg in Russia.

Stephen Turner, commercial director at Manchester Airport added: “Riga is already a very popular destination, so it is great to see the Latvian flag carrier come onto the route too, giving additional choice and flexibility for the 22 million people in our vast catchment area. We look forward to the route starting next year and seeing the airline grow from the UK’s global gateway in the North.”

The news forms part of a wider network expansion from the airline, with plans for four more new destinations for summer 2020: from Riga to Trondheim, Bergen and Yerevan, and from Tallinn to Nice.

Weatherford Wins New Business in Iraq

Weatherford International plc (OTC-PINK:WFTIQ) has announced it has been awarded two fully integrated rig contracts and one well services (through-tubing intervention) contract with a multinational operator in one of the world’s largest proven oil fields located in Iraq.

Frederico Justus, President of the Eastern Hemisphere for Weatherford, said:

Weatherford has operated in Iraq since 2006, longer than any other multinational oilfield services provider.

“During that time, Weatherford proved to operators in Iraq that its capabilities across the life of the well reduce costs, enhance safety and maximize production efficiency.

“This experience gave the operator confidence in our ability to execute these turnkey drilling projects in one of their most strategic global locations.

For the next two years, Weatherford will provide integrated services to drill development wells in one of Iraq’s most productive oil fields.

For the next five years, Weatherford will provide in-country support and specialized well services, including workshop services, fishing, milling, water shutoff and zonal isolation.

(Source: Weatherford)

New USAID Funding for Victims of ISIS Genocide

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Mark Green announced the first tranche of recipients under USAID’s New Partnerships Initiative (NPI) on Thursday during his remarks at the Accord Network’s Annual Forum.

The organizations will carry out programs that improve global health outcomes in USAID’s partner countries, and assist populations in the Republic of Iraq that are recovering from the genocide perpetrated by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Administrator Green launched the NPI in May 2019 to expand and diversify USAID’s partner base and change the way the Agency does business. By working with new or underutilized partners, the Agency hopes to bring more innovative approaches to U.S. foreign assistance; focus on strengthening capacity and commitment in partner countries by tapping into existing networks of community- and faith-based organizations; and reach new populations.

Administrator Green also announced a new $18 million award to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to support the return and recovery of displaced religious and ethnic minority communities in the Nineveh Plains and Western Nineveh Province. Long-time USAID partner Samaritan’s Purse will receive $9 million of that total.

New USAID Assistance Through the NPI Direct to Local Iraqi Groups That Are Helping Victims of ISIS Genocide

USAID is awarding small grants through the NPI that total approximately $4 million to six local groups in Northern Iraq to help religious and ethnic minorities targeted by ISIS. The new NPI implementers in Northern Iraq are the following:

Philadelphia Organization for Relief and Development: The award will establish a community center in the town of Qaraqosh to provide services for people with disabilities, training in employment skills, child care, and a community food bank.

Catholic University of Erbil: The award will provide classes in business language and computer software for widows, victims of abuse, and former captives of ISIS.

Top Mountain: The award will support a business incubator and employment program for Iraqi youth, which will promote entrepreneurship, provide business training, and build commercial networks.

Shlama Foundation: The award seeks to improve job opportunities through training engineers on the installation on solar power, provide electricity for families, and install solar-powered pumps for farms and street lighting for villages.

Beth Nahrain: The award will help re-establish a local, women-led organization decimated by ISIS. The organization will also provide small-business vocational training to women in the Nineveh Plains.

Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights: The award will provide trauma-rehabilitation and resilience services to survivors of genocide; legal services and programs in justice/reparations; and activities to promote inter-religious and inter-ethnic dialogue.

The United States remains committed to supporting persecuted religious and ethnic minorities in Northern Iraq. With these new awards, the total assistance the U.S. Government has provided since 2017 in Northern Iraq is now more than $400 million. These programs complement H.R. 390, the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2018, which passed with bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress and which President Donald J. Trump signed into law on December 11, 2018. Additional U.S. humanitarian assistance has also benefited the same Iraqi communities.

New Funding for the IOM and Samaritan’s Purse to Help Victims of ISIS Genocide

Administrator Green also announced at the Accord Network that Samaritan’s Purse will receive $9 million as a part of a new $18 million award to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), to support the return and recovery of displaced religious and ethnic minority communities in the Nineveh Plains and Western Nineveh Province in Iraq.

New USAID Assistance in Global Health Through the NPI

Administrator Green also announced two new awards under the Agency’s NPI for global health. These awards, which total $68 million, will leverage the expertise and reach of local and locally established civil society and faith- and community-based organizations to increase the quality, access, and sustainability of health care.

The new NPI implementers for global health are the following:

World Relief: Working with local partners, World Relief will expand and leverage existing community networks in four countries to help strengthen maternal, reproductive, and child health at the local level.

Palladium International: This program will help reach USAID’s goal of increasing access to, and the uptake of, high-quality health care across priority areas, in line with USAID’s Journey to Self-Reliance. The partner will provide sub-awards to local organizations, along with mentoring and technical support to strengthen their capacity. Palladium will be expected to pass sixty-five percent of the total award to new and underutilized sub-awardees.

(Source: USAID)

Saudia Accepts Largest Dreamliner Variant

Boeing has delivered an initial 787-10 to Saudi Arabian Airlines, making the Middle Eastern carrier the eighth operator of the largest Dreamliner variant.

The airline has been a 787 user since January 2016 and currently flies 13 examples of the 207ft (63m) long 787-9.

Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser, the airline’s director general, said: “Saudia operates a state-of-the-art fleet equipped with the latest technology, and in addition to the airline’s existing Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, is now adding the 787-10 variant which will further support future network growth plans. The airplane’s onboard cabin features, long range capability and the latest in technological advancements are among the many aspects of what makes the Boeing 787 highly popular with our guests.”

Ihssane Mounir, Boeing’s senior vice president of commercial sales and marketing, added: “Saudia has been a valued partner with Boeing for nearly 75 years and this delivery marks another major milestone in our partnership. Our team takes great pride in building and delivering quality aircraft to Saudia and we are honoured by the continuing confidence in the 787 Dreamliner and 777 families. The addition of the 787-10 to Saudia’s fleet will continue the superior inflight experience that passengers have come to expect of the Dreamliner. Moreover, the unmatched fuel efficiency of the 787 will help Saudia open new routes and achieve significant fuel savings and emission reduction.

Boeing says that, since the airliner entered service in 2011, it has “enabled the opening of more than 235 new point-to-point routes and saved more than 40bn pounds of fuel”. To date, the manufacturer has handed over 38 787-10s to Singapore Airlines, Etihad Airways, United Airlines, EVA Air, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, All Nippon Airlines, Vietnam Airlines and Saudia.

Oil Exports slightly down in September

By John Lee.

Iraq’s Ministry of Oil has announced oil exports for September of 107,276,327 barrels, giving an average for the month of 3.576 million barrels per day (bpd), down from the 3.603 million bpd exported in August.

These exports from the oilfields in central and southern Iraq amounted to 103,010,306 barrels, while exports from Kirkuk amounted to 3,166,848 barrels, and from Qayara 877,196 barrels. Exports to Jordan were 221,977 barrels.

Revenues for the month were $6.345 billion at an average price of $59.149 per barrel.

August export figures can be found here.

(Source: Ministry of Oil)

Baghdad sends delegation to Erbil to Resolve Disputes

By Dana Taib Menmy for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraqi President Barham Salih met separately Sept. 18 with four Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) leaders — President Nechirvan Barzani, Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, parliament Speaker Rewaz Fayaq and Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani in Erbil, the KRG capital.

The purpose of Salih’s visit was to warn the KRG about the region’s share in Iraq’s federal budget for 2020, scheduled to be passed by the national parliament by the end of the year.

A well-informed source close to the ruing elites in both Baghdad and Erbil told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that the Iraqi president — who is Kurdish — cautioned the Kurdish leadership that the federal government in Baghdad will cut the Kurdistan region’s share of budget, including salaries of the KRG employees, if Erbil fails to hand over a portion of its oil to the State Organization for Marketing of Oil. The organization is responsible for selling Iraq’s oil.

Click here to read the full story.

Transparency in Iraqi Upstream Petroleum Sector

By Ahmed Mousa Jiyad.

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

Transparency in the Arab Countries’ Upstream Petroleum Sector- Iraq as case study*

While upstream petroleum sector is either dominant or has significant importance in many Arab economies of MENA region, the transparency of the sector is alarmingly lacking; this is manifested by their “formal” association with Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI), which is extremely limited and their Resource Governance Index (RGI) and Corruption Perception Index (CPI) that are too poor.

This presentation comprises three parts;

The first part addresses, briefly, the essence of transparency and what it entails:

  • Full disclosure & availability of and accessibility to related Data & Information;
  • Openness, answerability, accountability;
  • Multiplicity of involved, reporting or concerned entities;
  • Objective, Independent & Verifiable Indicators;
  • Transparency is not rhetorical claim; it is evidence-based;
  • Reconciliation of data: Materiality, Identifiably, Measurability;
  • Constitutional Premises (ownership) Right and Rights Based Development- RBD

Also, this part provides a selection of most known international entities specialized in the matter; these are EITI, Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), Transparency International (TI), Publish What You Pay (PWYP) and the Fund for Peace. Each of these entities has its distinct methodology, working procedures and publications. In addition to them, this part refers to the IMF’ Fiscal Transparency Code.

 

The second part exhibits charts on the standing of the Arab countries based on the latest available data and information from three international entities: EITI, NRGI-RGI and TI-CPI.

As on September 2019 only Mauritania has “meaningful progress” standing with EITI; Iraq was “suspended” since October 2017 due to “inadequate progress” and Yamen was “suspended” on February 2015 due to “political instability”, then in October 2017, Yemen was “delisted” and, thus, could be invited to reapply to the EITI once conditions were again favourable for implementation.

Obviously, the above manifests extremely poor standing (in number of countries and their status) with EITI.

The NRGI’ RGI measures the quality of resource governance in countries that together produce 82 percent of the world’s oil, 78 percent of its gas and a significant proportion of minerals, including 72 percent of all copper. RGI is the product of 89 country assessments (eight countries were assessed in two sectors), compiled by 150 researchers, using almost 10,000 supporting documents to answer 149 questions.

NRGI’s RGI for 2017 (oil and gas only) covers 89 countries and provides their “Score” on a scale of 100 and “Rank” of 89. RGI 2017 classifies the standing of countries according to their scores into: Good (>74); Satisfactory (60:74); Weak (45:59); Poor (30:44) and Failing (<30).

All the 12 Arab countries covered by RGI scored less than 60 out of 100. Countries with Weak score are Tunisia, Kuwait and Oman. Those scored poorly are Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Yamen. Finally, Libya scored failing.

TI’ CPI 2018 draws on 13 surveys and expert assessments to measure public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories, giving each a Score from zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean) and their Ranks accordingly.

Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Iraq and Lebanon each scored less than 30; Egypt, Algeria, Kuwait, Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan and Saudi Arabia scored over 30 up to 50; Oman, Qatar and UAE scored over 50 to 70.

Since both RGI and PCI are composite indexes, there is strong correlation between Scores and Ranks: low scores are associated with high rank numbers; high rank number means at the bottom of the list.

In conclusion all the standing of Arab countries is alarmingly very poor and disappointing with EITI, NRGI and TI.

 

The third part of the presentation focuses on Iraq as a case study on transparency through its association and experience with EITI.

Briefly, Government of Iraq (GoI) launched (2007/8) the International Compact with Iraq (ICI) in cooperation with the UN and the WB. ICI specifically calls to, “Establish and implement mechanisms to ensure transparency of petroleum sector flows”.

The government publicly announced its commitment to work with all stakeholder groups at the 4th EITI Global Conference in Doha, Qatar, in February 2009, and then made formal commitment to EITI at the Iraq EITI (IEITI) launching conference on 10-11 January 2010; a month later the country was accepted, by EITI Board, as a Candidate.

The first validation report, prepared by EITI’ International Secretariat- IS staff, endorsed by Adam Smith International- ASI, prompted EITI Board to announce, on 12 December 2012, Iraq as “Compliant” country under EITI rules and process. On 3 April 2013, IEITI organized big event in Baghdad celebrating this achievement by Iraq.

A team from EITI-IS visited Iraq during 1-9 April 2017 and held numerous meetings in Baghdad and, also, in Dubai (UAE); IS Report presents the findings and initial assessment of the data gathering and stakeholder consultations and followed EITI usual and unified “Validation Procedures” and applied the “Validation Guide” in assessing Iraq’s progress with the EITI Standard.

Iraq was found to have inadequate progress in implementing the EITI Standard in October 2017. The country status as “compliant member” was suspended and, according to EITI rules, was given a grace period to rectify the shortcomings to achieve at least “Meaningful” progress on all identified requirements.

Why and what went wrong

The presentation highlights and discussed questions relating to why and what had led to such suspension under the following headlines:

  • “Mission accomplished” and sense of complacency; frequency of MSG meetings and attendance curve
  • Wrong understanding of what “compliant” status really means;
  • Focus on “release on time” not on the quality and contents of the IEITI Annual Reports;
  • IEITI Annual report mostly Copy & Paste; most Parts are prepared by MoO/ MIM officials and full of flaws and inaccuracies;
  • Structure & composition of the MSG: dominated by Government representatives, IOCs not active, CSO lack understanding of Extractive Industry and language;
  • Big Secretariat, weak national capacity contribution and complete reliance on the Administrator;
  • Opposing domestic views: useless/invisible; event-base; abused by authorities and two extreme views (Rosy vs. UN full control!):
  • Surprising passivism on Corruption!!!!!!;
  • IEITI itself is a Black Box
  • Limited impacts that led to diminishing international support and lack of funding e.g., NORAD; NRGI: from “priority country” to “Limited engagement” to only in “RGI”;

What are next and the way forward

In this part, the presentation reviewed responses and actions taken by the Iraqi authorities since the suspension: From the initial “muteness” and “passivism” October -2 November 2018,….., to 4 Nov 2018 alerting article; Committees & changes,  …; February 2019 Baghdad Conference; EITI-IS second validation; EITI Global Conference, Paris- June 2019.

In case of re-instating Iraq “Compliant” status, IEITI still has to take specific necessary measures and actions for real impacts instead of making rhetorical statements; such measures and actions were proposed, justified and discussed during the presentation. The PowerPoint slides are attached herewith.

* Presentation delivered before the 12th Middle East and North Africa Oil & Gas Conference, organized by Target Exploration www.targetexploration.com, Imperial College, London, UK. 18 September 2019. I am very grateful to Target Exploration for sponsoring my participation.

Click here to download the PowerPoint slides presented at the conference.

Mr Jiyad is an independent development consultant, scholar and Associate with the former Centre for Global Energy Studies (CGES), London. He was formerly a senior economist with the Iraq National Oil Company and Iraq’s Ministry of Oil, Chief Expert for the Council of Ministers, Director at the Ministry of Trade, and International Specialist with UN organizations in Uganda, Sudan and Jordan. He is now based in Norway (Email: mou-jiya(at)online.no, Skype ID: Ahmed Mousa Jiyad). Read more of Mr Jiyad’s biography here.