Iraq Buys More Pipes from Turkey

By John Lee.

Turkish mills’ pipe exports to Iraq have reportedly risen by 10.3 percent year-on-year for the first three quarters of this year.

According to S&P Global Platts, Iraq bought 139,000 mt of steel pipe during the period.

(Source: S&P Global Platts)

The Future of Iraq’s Oil Is Russian

By Vera Mironova and Mohammed Hussein, for Foreign Policy. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

With ongoing protests making other investors nervous, Moscow is charging ahead.

Despite ongoing protests in Baghdad, which have seen the departure of many foreign diplomats for security concerns, Russia has doubled down.

Not only has its embassy stayed open in the recent weeks of turmoil, but its foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov (pictured), also paid a visit last month, first touring Baghdad and then Erbil.

His tour did not look like a regular diplomatic mission. There were no official agreements signed; politics, Syria, and terrorism seemed like an afterthought; and diplomats were in the minority during the week’s events.

In fact, the majority of the participants were businesspeople, including representatives of such Russian oil and gas companies as Gazprom Neft, Rosneft, Soyuzneftegaz, and Lukoil.

Also in attendance were representatives of Technopromexport, a Russian company that builds energy facilities, and from Russia’s Federal Service of Military-Technical Cooperation.

Click here to read the full story.

See also:

China, Not Iran, Is the Power to Watch in Iraq

What’s Really Polluting the Shatt al-Arab?

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

What’s Really Polluting Southern Iraq’s Most Important Waterway?

For years, fish and other marine life has been disappearing from the all-important Shatt al-Arab waterway in Basra. This wide river at the southern end of Iraq is an important port, linking Iraq with the Persian gulf. It is a vital part of the local environment.

In the more recent past, there have been criticisms that the Shatt al-Arab is too polluted, radioactive and affected with bacterial diseases. Locals often ask why. But it’s not like there is a lack of knowledge about the various causes of this river’s life-threatening problems. A wide number of experts in the area have been studying the different types of pollution problems carefully for years.

Researcher Jabbar Hafez Jebur has conducted a number of studies on whether the Shatt al-Arab is radioactive, taking samples from  various contributing rivers. “The concentration of radioactive elements are within the permitted limits and do not require any action,” he told NIQASH.

The Shatt al-Arab is free of radioactivity, confirms Khajak Vartanian, a physicist with the southern Directorate of the Environment. “But,” he added, “there is growing chemical pollution.”

The concentrations of toxic metals like nickel, chromium, lead, zinc and cadmium can be measured on the water’s surface and in its sediments, says hydrologist Safaa al-Asadi, of the University of Basra’s geography department. There are low  concentrations of toxins spread evenly throughout the waterway.

“Yes, the river is contaminated with toxic minerals but their levels are still within the limits of daily use for irrigation and for aquatic survival,” al-Asadi explained. In fact, much of the pollution comes from the gas emissions in the atmosphere that result from oil extraction activities, he continued, as well as the pollutants issued by diesel generators. These pollutants, discharged into the air, end up in the river after it rains.

Where the various toxins end up depends very much on the tides in the Shatt al-Arab. Their location depends less on the discharge of industrial and domestic sewage, he notes, pointing out that man-made discharges directly into the river have less of an impact than those coming from the sky.

Basra’s Ministry of the Environment regularly monitors the amount of pollution in the waterways at various different points, says Ahmed Jassim Hanoun, director of the department for the protection of the environment at the ministry. Samples are taken regularly and tested, he adds.

Hanoun says his offices are concerned about the direct discharge of pollutants into the Shatt al-Arab and other nearby rivers. But he believes that one of the most important factors is the level of salinity, or salt, in the water.

No bacterial diseases were discovered in the waterways recently and Hanoun says this has a lot to do with the lower levels of salinity. Authorities have tried to ensure that more fresh water is released into the Shatt al-Arab to keep fresh water flowing, and prevent sea water from coming in from the ocean.

“What we noticed after periodic tests throughout 2019 is that the releases of fresh water from the Tigris river, coming from out of Maysan province, has meant that there is more resistance to the salt tongue coming in from the sea,” Hanoun said. The previous year, when there was not as much rainfall upriver, the Shatt al-Arab was a lot saltier and therefore more prone to bacterial growth.

“The department of water resources released 30 to 40 cubic meters [of fresh water] per second in 2018 but in 2019, it released more than 90 cubic meters per second,” Hanoun noted.

Besides the bacterial contamination, saline water from the sea and industrial and environmental pollution, there is another thing that isn’t helping, Hanoun points out: The number of submerged objects in the waterway.

His department has regularly asked the port authority to clear the waterways of the hundreds of objects there, he says.

“We are suffering because of the delay from the government,” says Khaled al-Talibi, a sea captain and head of a local mariners’ association. “The submerged items disrupt navigation in the harbour and change the way the sand and silt moves, which in turn causes a change in currents and reduces the flow of water to the river mouth.”

DNO announces Oil and Gas Discovery

DNO ASA, the Norwegian oil and gas operator, today announced issuance of a notice of discovery to the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq on the Baeshiqa-2 exploration well, in accordance with the requirements of the Production Sharing Contract, after flowing hydrocarbons to surface from the upper part of Triassic Kurra Chine B reservoir.

Following acid stimulation, the zone flowed variable rates of light oil and sour gas. Further testing of this and other Jurassic and Triassic zones is ongoing and will determine the next steps towards appraisal and assessment of commerciality.

The Baeshiqa-2 well was spud in February 2019 and drilled to a total depth of 3,204 meters (2,549 meters TVDSS).

DNO acquired a 32 percent interest and operatorship of the Baeshiqa license in 2017. Partners include ExxonMobil with 32 percent, Turkish Energy Company (TEC) with 16 percent and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) with 20 percent.

(Source: DNO)

Refineries Blockaded as Protests Continue

By John Lee.

Anti-government protesters reportedly blocked the entrance to the Nassiriya oil refinery on Wednesday.

Sources told Reuters that protesters blocked tankers from entering the refinery, causing fuel shortages across Dhi Qar province.

The refinery has capacity of 30,000 barrels per day (bpd), but has recently been producing only 15,000-20,000 bpd.

Anadolu Agency also reported that protesters have closed the Al-Shanafiyah oil refinery, south of the province of Diwaniya.

The source said that hundreds of protesters prevented oil trucks from entering or exiting the facility.

(Sources: Reuters, Middle East Monitor)

Conference: Find Out What’s Happening in Iraqi Business

From Peace to prosperity:

The Conference to find out what’s happening for Iraq business.

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) Autumn Conference in Dubai on December 8th is set against a backdrop of relative peace and security in Iraq, and the prospect of oil revenues surging through the economy is driving a wider range of business opportunities and a prospective 8% increase in GDP.

Peace is enabling the economy to diversify through the revenues that pay for a range of infrastructure projects. So this Autumn we are focusing on a range of sectors set to benefit from a stable Iraq: namely, Water, Transport and Logistics, Energy and Tech.

The recent protests have also spurred on Government reforms and incentives to drive employment, entrepreneurship and service diversity, and increase the volume of opportunity that lies ahead and the prospects for not just business-to-business but also a burgeoning consumer market.

The Iraqi Electricity Minister will likely be speaking about his reforms to open up the market to SME’s, training and new players. Other ministers including those from Construction and Transport are attending.

The recent announcement of a 10year tax-free period for SMEs in Iraq will also stimulate the Tech entrepreneur market and drive the uptake of engineering skills.

At this conference, we will discuss big-picture economics with Professor Frank Gunter (Lehigh University), Ahmed Tabaqchali (AFC Iraq Fund), and Simon Penny (UK Trade & Investment), who will address the economic backdrop in the Middle East, and the context for Iraq in particular.

The World Bank and Wood Plc will cover the water sector, while Rolls Royce, Basra Gateway Terminal (BGT), and Menzies will look at transport and logistics, and Iraq’s Electricity Minister, GE, Siemens and Enka will focus on energy.

Alongside the conference our Tech Forum brings experts on HealthTech and Educational Tech, including speakers from GE, Siemens Healthcare, KPMG, EY, Google and the British Council, among others.

While key opportunities will be outlined, the real opportunity for business is to meet the people directly involved in contracts and supply-chain opportunities. This is the place to do business, to network and to find out what’s happening in the Middle East’s most potentially dynamic market that is Iraq.

For further information and to find the latest updates on speakers – more are expected – please contact  london@webuildiraq.org or visit the website to register for tickets.

https://iraqbritainbusiness.org/event/autumn-conference-at-the-address-hotel-dubai

The year it’s all on the up…

Oil Exports Down in October

By John Lee.

Iraq’s Ministry of Oil has announced preliminary oil exports for October of 106,859,470 barrels, giving an average for the month of 3.447 million barrels per day (bpd), down from the 3.576 million bpd exported in September.

These exports from the oilfields in central and southern Iraq amounted to 103,540,855 barrels, while exports from Kirkuk amounted to 2,579,837 barrels, and from Qayara 431,486barrels. Exports to Jordan were 307,292 barrels.

Revenues for the month were $6.107 billion at an average price of $57.153 per barrel.

September export figures can be found here.

(Source: Ministry of Oil)

ShaMaran Exceeds 20,000,000 Barrels at Atrush

ShaMaran Petroleum has reported that the Atrush oil field total production has exceeded 20,000,000 barrels.

ShaMaran President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Adel Chaouch said:

“This cumulative production milestone demonstrates Atrush’s upward path to higher production and has been attained ahead of target.  We look forward to further future production achievements and operational improvements in the Atrush block.”

The Company maintains its Atrush 2019 average daily production guidance of between 30,000 and 35,000 bopd with the prior week’s average production of 46,000 bopd which is within our target exit rate between 45,000 bopd and 50,000 bopd. The Company shares in this production, pursuant to a production sharing contract, with a working interest of 27.6%.

The Atrush field is located 85 km northwest of Erbil and is one of the largest new oil developments in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The field was first discovered in 2011 and oil production started in July 2017.

In its over two years of production the Atrush field has sold all its production to the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq at international market prices less a discount based on quality and transportation charges.

(Source: ShaMaran)

Genel Energy Production Rises; Shares Up

Shares in Genel Energy closed up nearly 7 percent on Friday after the company reported increased production in its operations update for the third quarter and first nine months of 2019. The information contained herein has not been audited and may be subject to further review.

Bill Higgs (pictured), Chief Executive of Genel, said:

We continue to deliver on our strategy. Robust production is generating material free cash flow, which we are recycling into low-risk and quick returning projects, with good progress made on delivering key milestones on schedule for both Sarta and Qara Dagh.

“Rapid payback from our low break-even assets gives us resilience and significant flexibility in regard tofuture capital allocation. The sustainability of our cash-generation provides opportunities to deliver material shareholder value through investing in growth and increasing returns to shareholders.

FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE

  • $287 million of cash proceeds received as of 30 September 2019, of which $120 million was received in Q3
  • Free cash flow of $121 million in the first nine months of 2019,with capital expenditure of $110 million
  • Cash of $413 million at 30 September 2019 ($281 million at 30 September 2018)
  • Net cash of $115 million at 30 September 2019 (net debt of $16 million at 30 September 2018)

OPERATING PERFORMANCE

  • Net production averaged 36,530 bopd in the first nine months of 2019, an increase of 12% year-on-year, in line with guidance
  • Production in Q3 averaged34,720 bopd (33,700 bopd in Q3 2018)
  • 11 wells have been placed on production in 2019, with a further five wells expected to add to production in the remainder of the year
  • Production and sales by asset during Q3 2019 were as follows:

PRODUCTION ASSETS

  • Tawke PSC (Genel 25% working interest)
    • Tawke PSC production averaged 119,760 bopd in Q3 (113,100 bopd in Q3 2018), including a contribution of 51,940 bopd from the Peshkabir field
    • Production was impacted by a workover of the P-2 well and side-track of the P-3 well at the Peshkabir field, with the latter well expected to come onstream shortly
    • The Tawke-57A deep well to appraise the Jurassic was spud in August 2019 with testing to commence shortly. The Tawke-59 Cretaceous well spud in October 2019 and is expected to come on production later this month, with two Jeribe wells, Tawke-61 and Tawke-62 also set to be placed on production shortly
    • Four additional Jeribe wells are planned to spud by year-end
    • The operator expects to exit the year with Tawke licence production averaging 120,000 bopd and to maintain this rate into 2020
  • Taq Taq PSC (Genel 44% working interest and joint operator)
    • Taq Taq field production averaged 10,870 bopd in Q3 2019 (12,200 bopd in Q3 2018)
    • Following the successful completion of the TT-19 well, which is currently flowing at a rate of c.1,500 bopd, current production from the Taq Taq field is just under 11,000 bopd
    • The TT-34 well is currently drilling and is scheduled to complete later this month. The rig will then move to drill TT-35, which is set to spud in December and is targeting production from the northern flank of the field

PRE-PRODUCTION ASSETS

  • Sarta (Genel 30% working interest)
    • Civil construction work at the Sarta field completed on schedule in October 2019, and work on the construction of the 20,000 bopd central processing facility (‘CPF’) has now begun
    • Commissioning of the CPF and production are on track to begin in the middle of 2020
    • Phase 1A represents a low cost pilot development of the Mus-Adaiyah reservoirs, designed to recover 2P gross reserves of 34 MMbbls
    • Unrisked gross mid case resources relating to the Mus-Adaiyah reservoir only are estimated by Genel at c.150 MMbbls, with overall unrisked gross P50 resources currently estimated by the Company at c.500 MMbbls
  • Qara Dagh (Genel 40% working interest and operator)
    • Genel has signed a contract with Parker Drilling for the drilling of the QD-2 well, and civil construction works are underway in preparation for the upcoming drilling operations
    • The well will test the structural crest 10 km to the north-west of the QD-1 well, which tested sweet, light oil from Cretaceous carbonates
    • The QD-2 well is on track to spud in H1 2020
    • Unrisked gross mean resources at Qara Dagh are currently estimated by Genel at c.200 MMbbls
  • Bina Bawi (Genel 100% and operator)
    • Negotiations between Genel and the Kurdistan Regional Government continue to progress regarding commercial terms for the gas and oil development at Bina Bawi
    • In parallel with these negotiations, Genel is completing the necessary readiness work required to enable rapid progress towards gas and oil developments upon agreement of the commercial terms
    • Genel is confident of a positive outcome to these commercial discussions
  • Somaliland
    • Onshore Somaliland, Stellar Energy Advisors has been appointed to run the farm-out process relating to the SL10B13 block (Genel 75% working interest, operator)
    • Interpretation of the 2018 2D seismic data together with basin analysis has identified multiple stacked prospects, with each of them estimated to have resources of c.200 MMbbls
    • A further program of surface oil seep sampling and analysis reiterates the presence of a working petroleum system on the block
    • It is estimated that a well designed to test multiple stacked prospects could be drilled for c.$30 million gross
  • Morocco
    • On the Sidi Moussa block offshore Morocco (Genel 75% working interest, operator), processing of the multi-azimuth broadband 3D seismic survey acquired in 2018 over the prospective portions of the block is nearing completion
    • The farm-out campaign is on track to begin in Q1 2020, aimed at bringing a partner onto the licence prior to considering further commitments

OUTLOOK AND 2019 GUIDANCE

  • Net production guidance in 2019 maintained at close to Q4 2018 levels of 36,900 bopd
  • 2019 capital expenditure guidance maintained towards the top end of the $150-170 million range
  • Interim dividend of 5¢ per share to be paid on 8 January 2020 to shareholders on the register as of 13 December 2019
    • Given the ongoing strength of cash generation and the positive outlook for the Company, Genel reaffirms its commitment to growing the dividend
  • The Company continues to actively pursue growth and is assessing opportunities to make value-accretive additions to the portfolio

(Source: Genel Energy)

Unaoil Directors Plead Guilty in US

Two brothers have pleaded guilty in the US to facilitating the payment of millions of dollars in bribes to officials in nine countries, including Iraq.

Cyrus Ahsani, 51, and Saman Ahsani, 46, both of United Kingdom (UK), ran the Monaco-based oil and gas consultancy Unaoil.

They are due to be sentenced on 20th April, 2020.

The following announcement was made by the US Department of Justice:

The U.S. Department of Justice said on Wednesday that Cyrus Ahsani, 51, and his 46-year-old brother Saman each pleaded guilty in March to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) on behalf of companies to secure oil and gas contracts.

They will be sentenced on April 20, 2020, the department said.

Steven Hunter, a 50-year-old British resident and former business development director, also pleaded guilty in August to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA.

The former CEO and chief operations officer (COO) of a Monaco-based intermediary company have pleaded guilty for their roles in a scheme to corruptly facilitate millions of dollars in bribe payments to officials in multiple countries. These included Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Libya and Syria. The company’s former business development director also pleaded guilty for his role in paying bribes in Libya.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick of the Southern District of Texas, Assistant Director in Charge Timothy R. Slater of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Inspector in Charge Adrian Gonzales of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Houston Division and Special Agent in Charge D. Richard Goss of the IRS-Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) Houston Field Office made the announcement.

Cyrus Ahsani, 51, and Saman Ahsani, 46, both of United Kingdom (UK), each pleaded guilty March 25 to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), for conspiring to facilitate bribes on behalf of companies in foreign countries in order to secure oil and gas contracts. UK resident Steven Hunter, 50, former business development director, pleaded guilty Aug. 2, 2018, to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA. Cyrus and Saman Ahsani are set for sentencing April 20, 2020, before U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore of the Southern District of Texas. Hunter’s sentencing is scheduled for March 13, 2020, before U.S. District Judge David Hittner.

According to court documents, former U.S. resident and CEO Cyrus Ahsani and former COO Saman Ahsani managed a Monaco-based intermediary company that provided services for multinational companies operating in the energy sector. From approximately 1999 to 2016, the Ahsanis conspired with others, including multiple companies and individuals, to make millions of dollars in bribe payments to government officials in Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Libya and Syria.

Additionally, court documents reflect Cyrus and Saman Ahsani laundered the proceeds of their bribery scheme in order to promote and conceal the schemes and to cause the destruction of evidence in order to obstruct investigations in the United States and elsewhere. Hunter participated in the conspiracy to violate the FCPA by, among other things, facilitating bribe payments to Libyan officials between about 2009 and 2015.

The FBI, IRS-Criminal Investigation and U.S. Postal Inspection Service conducted the investigation. Trial Attorneys Dennis R. Kihm, Gerald M. Moody Jr., Jonathan P. Robell and Gwendolyn A. Stamper of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Suzanne Elmilady of the Southern District of Texas are prosecuting the case. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs also provided substantial assistance in this matter.

The governments of Australia, Canada, France, Guernsey, Italy, Monaco, the Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland and UK provided significant assistance in this matter as did the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Eurojust.

The Fraud Section is responsible for investigating and prosecuting all FCPA matters. Additional information about the Justice Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/foreign-corrupt-practices-act.

(Sources: US Dept of Justice, Reuters)