Iraqi National Oil Company (INOC) holds First Meeting

By John Lee.

The recently-created Iraqi National Oil Company (INOC) has held its first meeting in Baghdad.

Among the items discussed were the five-year plan for the oil exploration sector, and what were described as "interim and future production and export plans", in coordination with the State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO).

(Source: Ministry of Oil)

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Khor Mor gets $250m Financing from DFC

Pearl Petroleum, the consortium led by Dana Gas and Crescent Petroleum of the UAE, has signed a $250 million financing agreement with the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to support the gas expansion works currently under way at the Khor Mor gas plant in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).

DFC is the development finance arm of the U.S government and proceeds from the 7-year DFC financing will support an increase in gas production capacity by 50% to 690 million standard cubic feet (scf)/day to meet rising demand for clean natural gas for electricity generation and industry in the KRI. The total project cost is $630 million and the remaining financing has already been secured through a regional bank facility and the EPC contractor.

The KM-250 project is the first stage of a two-train expansion project at Khor Mor that aims to boost total production capacity to approach 1 billion scf/day. Work resumed in April 2021 after onsite construction was halted last year due to the COVID pandemic and is currently on track for completion by April 2023.

Total investment by Pearl Petroleum at Khor Mor to date exceeds US$2.1 billion with total cumulative production of over 341 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe) in natural gas and liquids. The uninterrupted supply of gas to power plants in Erbil, Chemchemal and Bazian has resulted in significant fuel cost savings and economic benefits for the Kurdistan Region and Iraq as a whole.

The gas produced to date has enabled emissions savings of 42 million tonnes of CO2 by displacing diesel fuel in power generation in the KRI, thereby making a major contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and local air pollution in the region as well as supporting the transition to better energy sources to tackle global climate change.

Between 2018 and 2021, the Khor Mor Gas Plant also benefitted from a 45% production increase through an optimization of the facility bringing current total production to 106,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd). The project is today the largest regional private sector upstream gas operation in Iraq.

Mr. Majid Jafar (pictured), CEO of Crescent Petroleum and Board Managing Director of Dana Gas, commented:

"This financing agreement with DFC underscores the importance of developing the natural gas resources in the KRI to support regional economic development and growth. Despite the global challenges presented by the COVID pandemic, we have continued to maintain our record of uninterrupted operations and even managed to grow production. The DFC agreement is a testament to our successful track record and further highlights the potential of these resources and the bright future for the KRI."

Dr. Patrick Allman-Ward, CEO of Dana Gas, added:

"With our partners in Pearl Petroleum we are proud to be further developing the gas sector of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, delivering expanded supply of cleaner energy, and supporting local economic development. This agreement underscores our continued confidence in the region and its long-term prospects."

Mr. Dev Jagadesan, Acting CEO of DFC, said:

"DFC's investment in the Khor Mor expansion will substantially increase access to energy for people all across the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. This highly developmental project represents the United States' continuing investment in the KRI."

In April 2007, Dana Gas and Crescent Petroleum entered into an agreement with the KRG for exclusive rights to appraise, develop, produce, market, and sell petroleum from the Khor Mor and Chemchemal fields in the KRI. Production from a newly built plant at Khor Mor began just 15 months later, in October 2008, an industry record. In 2009, Pearl Petroleum was formed as a consortium with Dana Gas and Crescent Petroleum as the majority shareholders, and with OMV, MOL, and RWE joining the consortium subsequently with a 10% share each.

Full-time staff at the operation number over 500, with over 85% local staff, including many in senior management positions. The companies have implemented a corporate social responsibility program to support local communities with equipment and supplies to deal with the COVID pandemic such as ventilators, sanitizers and protection equipment, in addition to a pledge to donate 100,000 vaccines to be administered in those local communities. This is in addition to ongoing support with local education, health and power supply as well as humanitarian aid for persons displaced from conflict zones as well as orphans. These initiatives assist the local communities in improving their standard of living, health, well-being, security and stability and the development of human capital.

(Source: Dana Gas)

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TotalEnergies signs $10bn New Deals in Iraq

TotalEnergies, the Iraqi Ministries for oil and electricity, and the country's National Investment Commission (NIC) have signed, in the presence of the Prime Minister of Iraq, major agreements covering several projects in the Basra region, designed to enhance the development of Iraq's natural resources to improve the country's electricity supply.

Iraq, a country rich in natural resources, is indeed experiencing electricity shortages while it faces a sharp increase in demand from the population.

TotalEnergies, with the support of the Iraqi authorities, on the one hand will invest in installations to recover gas that is being flared on three oil fields and as such supply gas to 1,5 GW of power generation capacity in a first phase growing to 3 GW in a second phase, and, on the other hand, will also develop 1 GWac of solar electricity generation capacity to supply the Basra regional grid.

These agreements include:

  • The construction of a new gas gathering network and treatment units to supply the local power stations, with TotalEnergies also bringing its expertise to optimize the oil and gas production of the Ratawi field, by building and operating new capacities.
  • The construction of a large-scale seawater treatment unit to increase water injection capacities in southern Iraq fields without increasing water withdrawals as the country is currently facing a water-stress situation. This water injection is required to maintain pressure in several fields and as such will help optimizing the production of the natural resources in the Basra region.
  • The construction and operation of a photovoltaic power plant with a capacity of 1 GWp to supply electricity to the grid in the Basra region.

These projects represent a total investment of approximately $10 billion (100% share).

Patrick Pouyanné, TotalEnergies' Chairman and CEO, said:

"These agreements signal our return through the front door to Iraq, the country where our Company was born in 1924. Our ambition is to assist Iraq in building a more sustainable future by developing access to electricity for its people through a more sustainable use of the country's natural resources such as: reduction of gas flaring that generates air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, water resource management and development of solar energy.

"This project perfectly illustrates the new sustainable development model of TotalEnergies, a multi-energy Company which supports producing countries in their energy transition by combining the production of natural gas and solar energy to meet the growing demand for electricity. It also demonstrates how TotalEnergies can leverage its unique position in the Middle East, a region where the lowest-cost hydrocarbons are produced, to gain access to large-scale renewable projects."

(Sources: TotalEnergies, Ministry of Oil)

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Iran Slashes Natural Gas Exports to Iraq

By John Lee.

An Iranian official has said that Iran's natural gas (methane) exports to Iraq have been reduced, but not because of arrears owed by Iraq.

Mohammad Reza Julaei , the Dispatching Director of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC), told Shana that exports have been reduced by 38 million cubic meters per day; they were believed to be running about 40 to 45 million cubic meters per day previously.

But he said that this was done based on an agreement and with prior notice, and has "nothing to do with [Iraq's] arrears to Iran."

He added, however, that the need to settle the debts is still on the agenda.

(Source: Shana)

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AA to distribute Laboratoires Gilbert in Iraq

Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) member AA for Global Trading and Commercial Agencies has announced that it has started importing the products of Laboratoires Gilbert of France to Iraq, as per an agreement signed in 2020.

Based in France's Normandy region, Laboratoires Gilbert manufactures and markets 30 brands and 1,900 references such as Physiodose, Physiolac, Dolodent, Luc and Léa, Comptoir Aroma, Algotherm, Laino, Hei Poa, and Comptoir du Bain among others.

Currently, AA is the commercial agent of several brands including Metrex Research (USA), Laboratoires Gilbert (France) and Palmer's (USA).

(Source: IBBC)

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GKP Shares Rally on Half-Year Results

By John Lee.

Shares in Gulf Keystone Petroleum (GKP), a leading independent operator and producer in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, were trading 12 percent higher today after the company announced its results for the half year ended 30 June 2021.

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

"I am pleased to report strong operational and financial performance in the first half of 2021, despite the continuing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our leverage to the recovery in oil prices, combined with safe and reliable production towards the top end of our guidance range and a continued sharp focus on costs, has resulted in significant cash flow generation. With continued strong production performance from the Shaikan Field, we are tightening the 2021 production guidance range to 42,000 - 44,000 bopd.

"We continue to deliver against our commitment to balance investment in growth and returns to shareholders. Today, we are pleased to declare an interim dividend for 2021 of $50 million, bringing total dividends this year to $100 million.

"The early restart of the drilling campaign in June enables us to maintain production growth momentum and to drill an additional well, SH-G, in 2021 after completion of SH-14, the final well in the 55,000 bopd investment programme. SH-14 is expected to come onstream in Q4 2021, while we expect SH-G to come onstream in Q1 2022.

"We continue to work closely with the MNR and our partner on the preparation of the Shaikan FDP and expect to submit the FDP to the MNR in Q4 2021 for approval."

Highlights to 30 June 2021 and post reporting period

Operational

  • Remain focused on safe and reliable operations with No Lost Time Incident ("LTI") recorded for over 600 days and no recordable incidents for around 550 days
  • Continuing to manage the challenges presented by COVID-19 to protect the health of staff and contractors
  • Strong average gross 2021 production to 31 August 2021 of c.42,900 bopd, up 18% from the corresponding period in 2020 and towards the top end of 2021 guidance; gross production on 31 August 2021 was 42,842 bopd
  • Drilling activities progressing well following early restart in June; SH-13 expected to come onstream imminently ; drilling of SH-14 underway with completion and hook-up expected in Q4 2021
  • Capitalising on early restart of drilling and opportunity to maintain a continuous drilling programme, planning to spud SH-G in Q4 2021, after completion of SH-14. SH-G is expected to commence production in Q1 2022
  • SH-G, the first well after the 55,000 bopd expansion programme, is an opportunity to maintain growth and momentum while we prepare the Shaikan Field Development Plan ("FDP")
  • Completed debottlenecking of PF-2, increasing total field processing capacity to c.57,500 bopd

Financial

  • H1 2021 revenue up 162% to $130.7 million (H1 2020: $49.9m) contributing to a return to profit after tax of $64.8 million (H1 2020: $33.1 million loss)
  • Adjusted H1 2021 EBITDA of $93.8 million, more than triple $27.5 million in H1 2020, driven by the Company's strong leverage to the recovery in oil prices, increase in production and low-cost base:
    • Realised price up 129% to $43.7/bbl (H1 2020: $19.1/bbl)
    • H1 2021 gross average production up 17% to 43,516 bopd (H1 2020: 37,159 bopd)
    • H1 2021 gross Opex per barrel of $2.4/bbl, below 2021 guidance range of $2.5-$2.9/bbl
  • Net Capex of $14.1 million (H1 2020: $38.5 million), with the restart of the 55,000 bopd expansion programme
  • Total dividends of $50 million paid to date, including an annual dividend of $25 million and a special dividend of $25 million
  • Robust cash balance of $177.4 million at 1 September 2021

Outlook 

  • Tightening 2021 average gross production guidance range from 40,000 - 44,000 bopd to 42,000 - 44,000 bopd
  • Maintaining 2021 gross Opex per barrel guidance of $2.5 to $2.9/bbl
  • The addition of SH-G increases 2021 net Capex guidance from $55-$65 million to $75-$85 million
  • With continued constructive engagement with the Ministry of Natural Resources ("MNR") and the Company's partner Kalegran B.V. (a subsidiary of MOL Hungarian Oil & Gas plc) ("MOL"), Gulf Keystone is expecting to submit an FDP in Q4 2021 to the MNR for approval
    • The FDP includes the continued ramp-up of Jurassic oil production, appraisal of the Triassic reservoir and a Gas Management Plan
    • We continue to optimise the scope, schedule and cost of the FDP
  • Developing Gulf Keystone's sustainability strategy, with the primary environmental focus on more than halving CO2 per barrel by 2025 by eliminating flaring
  • In line with the Company's strategy of balancing investment in growth and returns to shareholders, Gulf Keystone is pleased to declare an interim dividend for 2021. The 2021 interim dividend is $50 million to be paid on 8 October 2021 based on a record date of 24 September 2021
  • Following payment of the interim dividend, the Company will have distributed $100 million of dividends in 2021
  • With continuing strong oil prices and cash flow generation, there may be opportunities to consider further distributions to shareholders and to optimise the capital structure

More here.

(Sources: GKP, Yahoo!)

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DNO Completes $400m Bond Placement

DNO ASA, the Norwegian oil and gas operator, has completed the private placement of USD 400 million of new five-year senior unsecured bonds with a coupon rate of 7.875 percent.

The placement met strong investor demand across international markets and was significantly oversubscribed, leading the Company to upsize the new bond issue from USD 300 million to USD 400 million.

Settlement is expected on or about 9 September 2021, subject to customary conditions precedent, and an application will be made for listing of the new bonds on the Oslo Stock Exchange.

Net proceeds will be used towards refinancing of the DNO02 bonds (ISIN: NO0010823347) and general corporate purposes. In connection with the placement, the Company has agreed to buy back USD 154 million in nominal value of the DNO02 bonds with a call notice for the remaining DNO02 bonds and other details to be announced upon settlement of the new bond.

Pareto Securities AS acted as Global Coordinator and Joint Lead Manager together with Danske Bank and SEB as Joint Lead Managers.

(Source: DNO)

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Iraq Oil Exports Exceed 3m BPD

By John Lee.

Iraq's Ministry of Oil has announced preliminary oil exports for August of 94,660,239 barrels, giving an average for the month of 3.054 million barrels per day (bpd), up from the 2.918 million bpd exported in July.

The exports from the oilfields in central and southern Iraq amounted to approximately 91,655,930 barrels, while exports from Kirkuk amounted to 3,004,309 barrels.

Revenues for the month were $6.533 billion at an average price of $69.017 per barrel.

July's export figures can be found here.

(Source: Ministry of Oil)

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Germany supports Critical Assistance to Displaced in Iraq

Germany supports WFP's critical assistance to displaced and refugee families in Iraq

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has received a €6 million contribution from the German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO) to support WFP's monthly food assistance to hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) and Syrian refugees living in Iraq.

WFP monthly food assistance to displaced families and refugees has become more critical with the rise in food prices and the devaluation of the Iraqi currency as the country grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic effects.

This contribution is part of the Germany's multi-year commitment to WFP to ensure no one is left behind.

"We share a common responsibility to support those in need, especially refugees and the displaced, and we value that Iraq and in particular the communities in Duhok and Sulaymaniyah have taken in so many families who had to leave their homes," said Chargé d'Affairs a.i. of the German Embassy in Baghdad Annika Bolten-Drutschmann. ""We consider WFP's cash transfers a flexible means of assistance that also benefits the host community and small businesses through buying locally."

WFP provides most of its monthly assistance to vulnerable families through cash transfers, through practical 'mobile money' solutions - where families receive cash assistance via mobile phone and can also use it electronically at local stores or - in the case of people living in camps - through electronic vouchers that can be redeemed in camp food shops. When such electronic solutions are not possible, for instance in areas where there is no network coverage, WFP provides through its partners direct cash assistance.

In addition, WFP distributes ready-to-eat food parcels for families who have to be quarantined as part of COVID-19 measures. These rations have also been useful in the past months following tragic fires which occurred in camps in Duhok and Sulaymaniyah.

"Germany continues to be a key partner for WFP in Iraq," said WFP Representative in Iraq Ally-Raza Qureshi. "As one of WFP's few partners to make multi-year contributions, Germany's leading example enables WFP to plan its assistance this and next year, to best meet the food requirements of families in need. We thank the German government and people for their support at this critical time."

Alongside ongoing emergency operations, WFP is expanding resilience-building and livelihoods activities across the country, to help conflict-affected families and communities create and sustain work opportunities. These are particularly needed as families continue to return home from camps, or settle in new areas. Germany is also a staunch supporter of these endeavours, through its Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

(Source: UN)

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Pressure to Open Borders for Pilgrims despite Pandemic

By Hassan Ali Ahmed, 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 under pressure to open borders for Shiite pilgrims despite pandemic

While the Iraqi government attempts to prevent the spread of the delta variant from Iran, there is internal and external pressure to open its borders for Shiite pilgrims to visit the holy cities of Karbala and Najaf.

Click here to read the full article.

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