What is the fate of Baghdad-Erbil’s Oil-for-Budget Agreement?

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.

What is the fate of Baghdad-Erbil’s oil-for-budget agreement amid ongoing protests?

The Kurdistan Region of Iraq has vast proven oil and gas resources; however, mismanagement, corruption and ruling parties’ monopoly on power have brought the region to the brink of financial collapse amid longstanding controversies with the Iraqi government over the region’s share of federal budget.

Following extensive negotiations, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) announced Nov. 27 that a final oil-for-budget deal with the Iraqi federal government had been reached in which the KRG agreed to submit 250,000 barrels per day of crude oil to Iraqi State Oil Marketing Company in return for receiving a fair share of the country’s budget for 2020.

The KRG currently produces 500,000 barrels per day, and has been exporting most of its oil independently through Turkey since 2013.

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Oil Trail reveals Turkey funding Syrian Kurdish rivals

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

Oil trail reveals Turkey funding Syrian Kurdish rivals

At the Halifax Security Forum, an annual event attended by high-powered government officials, business titans and assorted other movers and shakers from across the globe, national security adviser Robert O’Brien took the stage with PBS’ Nick Shifrin and let the cat out of the bag.

When the veteran correspondent grilled O’Brien Nov. 23 about President Donald Trump’s decision to keep US troops in northeastern Syria “for the oil,” noting that the Pentagon’s Syrian Kurdish allies were selling it to the Syrian regime in defiance of sanctions, O’Brien responded, “Some of it goes to the regime. Some of it is used locally. Some of it goes to Iraqi Kurdistan. Some of it goes to Turkey.

The key, though, is not where the oil goes but where the revenue goes.” The main thing, he concluded, was to ensure that none of it got to the Islamic State.

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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.

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See also:

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

Cabinet Approves $25m Desalination Project

By John Lee.

The Cabinet held its regular weekly meeting in Baghdad on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Adil Abd Al-Mahdi.

It authorised the Ministries of Education, Higher Education and Scientific Research, other ministries, public bodies and local councils to recruit holders of post- graduate degrees, and to exempt this round of recruitment from applicable clauses in the 2019 Federal Budget. The exemption is for this year only.

The Cabinet approved a letter of intent from the Ministry of Oil, and authorised it to task Italian company ENI to carry out a project for the supply and installation of two desalination plants at Al-Baradiya in Basra Province with a capacity of 400 cubic meters per hour each, and for the amount of 24,965,768 US dollars.

The Cabinet discussed other policies on employment, housing and transport.

(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.

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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.

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PM Rejects Resignation of Health Minister

By John Lee.

At a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has reportedly rejected the resignation of the health minister Ala Al Alwan (pictured).

Citing problems with blackmail and corruption, it was the minister’s second attempt to resign, having been persuaded to remain after a previous attempt in March.

More here.

(Source: The National)

Palestine considers Importing Fuel from Iraq

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

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh visited Iraq July 15 to discuss importing Iraqi fuel. This falls within the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s quest for gradual economic disengagement from Israel.

Shtayyeh was accompanied to Baghdad by a delegation composed of Minister of Finance Shukri Bishara, Minister of Foreign and Expatriate Affairs Riyad al-Malki, Minister of National Economy Khaled Assali, Minister of Agriculture Riyad Attari and Palestinian intelligence service head Majid Faraj. The delegation met with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, President Barham Salih and parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri.

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Iraq “has No Ties to Oil Tanker Seized by Iran”

Iraq’s oil ministry said on Sunday it has no connection with an oil tanker seized by Iran’s IRGC in the Persian Gulf for smuggling fuel, a report said.

“The ministry does not export diesel to the international market,” the Arab country’s oil ministry said in a statement, Iraqi News Agency reported.

Iraq’s relevant authorities are working to gather information about the seized vessel, it added.

Two Iraqi port officials said initial information obtained show that the seized ship is owned by a private shipping company which is owned by an Iraqi private trader.

In a statement on Sunday, the IRGC Navy’s Public Relations Department said that the foreign ship had been captured by the military vessels patrolling the second naval zone in the Persian Gulf as part of the operations to detect and fight against organized smuggling.

The IRGC Navy’s patrol vessels confiscated the foreign tanker that was carrying 700,000 liters of smuggled fuel in a surprise operation after coordination with judicial authorities, it added.

According to the statement, the foreign ship was seized near Farsi Island, a tiny, barren island in the Persian Gulf.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)