Three Experts offer advice to Iraq

By Padraig O'Hannelly.

A major petroleum conference has heard expert advice on the steps Iraq should take to increase its prosperity and wellbeing.

Addressing delegates at CWC/GFEn's Iraq Petroleum conference, held online this week for the first time, Anne-Laure Kiechel, Founding Partner at Global Sovereign Advisory, stressed the importance of fighting illegality in Iraq. She added that the counry needs a well-functioning sovereign wealth fund to preserve the counry's assets for the benefit of future generations.

Dr Carole Nakhle, Chief Executive Officer at Crystol Energy, emphasised the need to break the link between the economic reforms agenda and oil prices.

Meanwhile, Salem Chalabi, the newly-appointed Chairman and President of the Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI), focussed on the requirement to make long-lasting changes and regulatory reforms (and in particular, reform of the levels of salaries and pensions) before declaring that Iraq is open for business.

 

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Iraq Insider: Q3 2020 Non-Oil Economy Review

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

For Q3 2020, our first non-oil economy part examines Iraq's current challenges and economic potential at the macro and micro level. With the oil economy review, there two reports provide a detailed overview of developments in oil and gas, agriculture, industry, electricity and health, looking at Iraq's key vulnerabilities amid the COVID-19 crisis and where Iraq has received substantial international assistance.

Here we examine Iraq's current policy options, however limited, and prospects for stabilisation, in light of the new white paper on economic reform presented by the Iraqi cabinet on 13 October.

Additionally, we look at Iraq's continuing policy of trying to balance regional relations during a time of renewed proxy conflict, the regionally shared challenge of collapsed oil prices and the global pandemic.

Iraq's policy of regional outreach is finally starting to show positive results but remains vulnerable to the rapidly shifting geopolitics of the region. Arising from Baghdad's regional posture, we examine some of the most interesting developments, particularly in the energy sector.

Click here to read the full story.

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Iraq’s Future Isn’t Oil, It’s Sustainable Electricity

By Luay al-Khatteeb, for Foreign Policy. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraq's Future Isn't Oil, It's Sustainable Electricity

As the country continues to grapple with the aftermath of the Islamic State insurgency, revolutionizing the country's energy sector could be the key to long-term security.

Click here to read the full story (subscription required).

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Iraq, Jordan, Egypt Economic Partnership gains Momentum

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

Iraq, Jordan, Egypt economic partnership gains momentum

The tripartite meeting between the foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan and Iraq, and the ensuing agreements to boost cooperation raises questions about a nascent alliance that could confront Iran's growing influence in the region.

Click here to read the full article.

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Iraq invites Int’l bidders to Mansuriya Gas Field

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

Iraq invites international bidders to Mansuriya gas field

Iraq has invited international bidders to develop its Mansuriya gas field near the Iranian border, Iraqi Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar told the state news agency INA last week.

The invitation comes after the termination of a contract with a group led by Turkey's state-owned Turkish Petroleum Corp. that also included Kuwait Energy PLC and the Korean Gas Corp.

Click here to read the full article.

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Breaking Out of Fragility: Diversification and Growth in Iraq

Breaking Out of Fragility: A Country Economic Memorandum for Diversification and Growth in Iraq

Iraq is at a crossroads. Almost two decades after the 2003 war, the country remains caught in a fragility trap, facing increasing political instability, growing social unrest, and a deepening state-citizen divide.

Amid a multitude of crises (including an oil price shock, the COVID-19 pandemic, and recent protests) as well as a culmination of poor economic policies, a lack of reforms, and an inability to tackle corruption, Iraq is having its worst annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth performance in 2020 since the fall of the Saddam regime.

Instability, a lack of jobs, corruption, and poor service delivery remain among the most important risks to the country's long-term growth.

With every crisis comes an opportunity to reform. However, Iraq's path to reform will be challenging and uncertain. Given current oil prices and the persistent drop in global demand for oil because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country will have a tough time addressing the needs of its people in the short term.

It can, however, embark on a long but much-needed path toward structural transformation and reform, one that could leave its economy less dependent on oil and more driven by private sector activity.

The widespread protests since October 2019, which have called into the question the country's current political economy, illustrate that such path for reform can no longer be avoided. Nevertheless, as this report shows, this path will demand persistence, and Iraq will face much uncertainty as it tries to address its long-lasting challenges and change the status quo.

This report highlights what Iraq can do to sustain future growth, but it also shows why the country has not yet managed to achieve high levels of diversified growth alongside peace, stability, and a better standard of living for its people.

The report also suggests strategic pathways by which Iraq can break free from this fragility trap, in which peace and stability can create the conditions for people to fulfill their aspirations, find private sector jobs, and thrive.

In this context, the report's four chapters provide:

  1. an understanding of Iraq's underlying fragility and political economy challenges and their implications for a diversified growth model;
  2. an analysis of Iraq's growth characteristics and the country's potential for and benefits from eco¬nomic diversification;
  3. a trade diagnostic and assessment of Iraq's potential for trade and regional integration to create growth and stability; and,
  4. a review of Iraq's agriculture sector, from primary agriculture to agrifood systems, and its potential to support economic diversification, growth, and stability.

Breaking Out of Fragility: A Country Economic Memorandum for Diversification and Growth in Iraq (Full Report in a PDF Format)

(Source: World Bank)

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Minister proposes Joint Company for Iraqi Kurdistan’s Oil

By John Lee.

Iraq's Minister of Oil, Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismael [Ihsan Abduljabbar] (pictured) has reportedly proposed setting up a joint oil company to manage the production and export of oil from Iraqi Kurdistan.

According to Shafaq News, the new company would be "linked technically and administratively to the presidency of the region and the Federal Oil Ministry".

The Minister is quoted as saying:

"The ongoing talks between Baghdad and Erbil show new visions and ideas for the region."

(Source: Shafaq News)

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Former Unaoil Exec Jailed over Bribery in Iraq

Former Unaoil executive sentenced for paying bribes to win $1.7-billion worth of contracts

Basil Al Jarah has today been sentenced to three years and four months' imprisonment for paying in excess of $17m in bribes to dishonestly secure approximately $1.7bn worth of contracts in post-occupation Iraq.

Al Jarah, Unaoil's former Iraq partner, conspired with others to pay millions of dollars in bribes to public officials at the South Oil Company and Iraqi Ministry of Oil. These bribes secured contracts for Unaoil and its clients to construct oil pipelines, offshore mooring buoys in the Persian Gulf, and other infrastructure projects, collectively worth just over $1.7bn.

These contracts formed part of the Iraqi Ministry of Oil's 'Master Plan' to rebuild its oil export capacity and revitalise the Iraqi economy after years of war and occupation.

Director of the Serious Fraud Office Lisa Osofsky said:

"Al Jarah and his co-conspirators' machinations, driven by greed and heartless avarice, compromised the fairness of the bidding process and ultimately drove up the price a war-torn country had to pay for essential infrastructural upgrades, earning Unaoil and its clients vast profits in the process.

"This was a classic case of corruption, where powerful men took advantage of the desperation and vulnerability of others to line their own pockets.  I'm proud that the SFO could bring these men to justice."

Al Jarah pleaded guilty to five offences of conspiracy to give corrupt payments in July 2019 in relation to two projects; one to install three mooring buoys and one to construct two oil pipelines. Co-conspirators on the mooring buoys bribery, Stephen Whiteley and Ziad Akle, were found guilty of one and two counts, respectively, of conspiracy to give corrupt payments in July 2020. Akle was sentenced to five years' imprisonment and Whiteley to three years' imprisonment by HHJ Beddoe in July 2020. A further individual, Paul Bond, faces retrial in January 2021.

At his sentencing hearing on 8 October 2020 Al Jarah asked for further offences to be taken into consideration in relation to two other projects: one to install an oil platform and one to install a third oil pipeline.

(Source: UK SFO)

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Iraq to Expand Haditha Refinery

By John Lee.

Iraq's Minister of Oil, Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismael, has laid the foundation stone for a new 20,000-barrel-per-day production unit at Haditha Refinery, in Anbar province.

The new unit will increase production at the plant to 36,000 barrels per day.

The General Director of the North Refineries Company (NRC), Qassem Abdel Rahman, said the company will invite international companies to add additional capacity of 35,000 bpd.

(Source: Ministry of Oil)

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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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