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

Iraq Targets Increased Investment from Russia

By John Lee.

Iraq’s Deputy Foreign Minister Muayad Salih has said that he expects Russian companies to increase their investment in Iraq.

Tass quotes him as saying that a Russian company is starting to develop of fields in the area of the Ramadi city, adding:

“Hopefully investments there will top $45 billion by 2030.”

Meanwhile, the head of the Legal Department at the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, Mr. Luqman Al-Faily, met with the Russian ambassador to Baghdad Mr. Maxim Maksimov, at the Ministry’s headquarters in Baghdad.

During the meeting, they discussed procedures for the mutual exemption of entry visas between the two countries for holders of diplomatic, service and special passports.

(Sources: Iraqi Foreign Ministry, Tass)

Gazprom Neft starts shipping Sulphur from Badra

Gazprom Neft subsidiary Gazpromneft-Badra has begun shipping granulated sulphur from its Badra oilfield in Iraq — the unique gas infrastructure installed by the enterprise here having made it possible not just to diversify production, but also increase associated petroleum gas (APG) utilisation to 98 percent.

The pilot consignment, delivered by order of Iraqi client “Ard as-Sakhlya”, totalled 1,000 tonnes and was shipped from the field with the help of 40,000-tonne-capacity heavy-goods vehicles (HGVs) over the course of one week. Gazpromneft-Badra is now preparing to ship its next consignment, of more than 3,000 tonnes of granulated sulphur, for another business in Iraq.

Gazpromneft-Badra has managed commercial production at this asset for a period of five years, during which time total cumulative production has reached 100 million barrels. The business has produced more than 2,1 million tonnes (15.6 million barrels) of liquid hydrocarbons since early 2019. Shipments of granulated sulphur from Badra commenced this year.

Production is undertaken through sulphur production and granulation plants with capacity of 110,000 and 136,000 tonnes per year, respectively, both of which form part of the 1.6-billion cubic metres per year capacity gas plant at the Badra field.

The technological process of producing granulated-sulphur production is automated throughout all key stages, from intake of raw materials to packaging of finished products. Gazpromneft-Badra has, already, produced more than 72,000 tonnes of sulphur (now in storage), which is expected to be shipped to Iraqi customers as orders are received.

Vadim Yakovlev, First Deputy CEO of Gazprom Neft, commented:

We have, in Badra, created a modern industrial complex, unique in the variety of its output, producing not only oil and gas, but also granulated sulphur and electricity.

“Cutting-edge technological solutions have allowed us to monetise all hydrocarbons produced, as well as ensuring optimum environmental friendliness on this project, increasing APG utilisation to more than 98 percent.”

(Source: Gazprom Neft)

Sanctioned Russian Firm may Develop Iraq’s Block 17

By John Lee.

Russia’s Stroytransgaz has signed a preliminary contract for the exploration, development and production of Block 17, in Anbar province.

At a signing ceremony in Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Affairs and Oil Minister Thamer Abbas Ghadhban said that preliminary studies and information indicate the existence of oil reserves ranging between 2 and 4 billion barrels oil equivalent of gas. The block measures 12,000 square kilometers.

The Director General of Petroleum Contracts and Licensing Department, Abdul Mahdi Al-Amidi, said that the contract commits the company to build a residential complex in Anbar province in addition to the development of infrastructure and services for the province, with an estimated value of $100 million dollars.

Stroytransgaz was sanctioned by the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in 2014 in relation to Russian activity in Ukraine.

The deal needs final approval by Iraq’s Council of Ministers.

(Sources: Iraqi Oil Ministry, OFAC)

Oil Ministry’s “Odious Contract’ Trap” with ExxonMobil

By Ahmed Mousa Jiyad.

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

The Ministry of Oil and the “Odious Contract’ Trap” with ExxonMobil’ Consortium

Talks have intensified recently about the continuation of negotiations between the Ministry of Oil (MoO) and ExxonMobil/CNPC consortium that might lead to the signing of a contract for the “South Iraq Integrated Project (SIIP)” at an estimated cost of $53 billion and a duration of 30 years, but no official confirmation or indications on the fundamental contractual provisions that were agreed on and those still pending.

In the light of the available information, material evidence, actual examples, international geopolitical considerations and comparative analysis, a detailed evidence-based research and Report* was done on the project and related negotiation.

The report on SIIP’ possible contract comprises:

  • A necessary introduction and caveat;
  • Political and geopolitical implications of ExxonMobil behavior and its apparent link to the “deep state” based on many evidences that actually and factually had negative consequences on oil projects, for example, in Russia and in Iraq.

In Russia, ExxonMobil caused a delay of almost four years in the development of the Pobeda oil discovery in the Kara Sea when ExxonMobil withdrew, in late 2014, from its deal with Rosneft due to imposing US sanctions on Russia.

Iraq had three bad experiences with this company in recent years. The first, when ExxonMobil negotiated secretly and concluded, against declared government policy, deals with KRG in 2011 soon after the company secured West Qurna 1 contract through first bid round with the federal ministry.

That move led to excluding ExxonMobil from leading Common Seawater Supply Project (CSSP), reduce its Participating Interest in WQ1 and blacklisting it from any upstream project.

The second and third bad experience occurred this year when the company evacuated, unilaterally and without government consent, all its foreign staff from WQ1. All these three incidents caused tremendous damage to Iraqi economic interest.

  • Potential strategic risks, of an enormous scale, on SIIP that could be generate from the growing deterioration of the American-China relations as evidenced from the blacklisting of two major state oil companies, i.e. Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp and Sinopec. US escalating tension against Iran adds further geopolitical risks;
  • Analyses of what would be SIIP contract was premised on what was reported by national and international sources that are originally based on information given by unnamed Iraqi officials. That was due to the absence of clarity and lack of transparency of the ministry regarding essential contractual terms and conditions.

Based on the analyses and findings of the report, I am compelled to clearly alert and strongly, frankly and loudly warn both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Oil of the danger of pushing Iraq into a “trap of an odious contract” and by specifying ten of its most grave risks and disadvantages:

  1. ExxonMobil, as the consortium leader, is granted a monopoly position that allows the company directly controlling all vital oil projects in southern Iraq, and thus the entire national economy, for thirty years;
  2. It poses a multiplicity of major threats to national security and economic interest due to what can be called contractually-connected high strategic and geopolitical risks, since SIIP comprises many critical and vital projects such as Common Seawater Supply project-CSSP (for water injection), pipelines, storage tank-farms, export facilities, gas processing units and two oilfields;
  3. It contravenes the fundamental premises of the Iraqi Constitution because the contract requires “mortgaging/ reserving/ booking” two oilfields, with a combined plateau production of 500kbd, exclusively for the two foreign oil companies, i.e. ExxonMobil and CNPC, for the entire term of the contract- 30 years;
  4. It offers “Profit-Sharing Contract”, which, in reality, represents the monetary side of a “Production Sharing Contracts”, which, is impermissible by the Constitution;
  5. The announced astronomical cost (of $30bilion) increased already by $11billion in less than ten weeks while negotiating!;
  6. It offers all rent (windfall) resulting from oil price increases exclusively to the two foreign companies, nothing for Iraq!;
  7. It prevents SOMO (the only State Oil Marketing Company) from performing its role in marketing crude oil from the “mortgaged” two oilfields; this contravenes established policy, undermines annual state budget laws and weakens almost 50 years of SOMO’s function;
  8. It reduces the “national efforts” in the development of oilfields, thus, contradicting declared Ministry policy, weakens Iraq’s flexibility to comply with OPEC decisions through “swing fields”;
  9. Inconsistent with the regulations for tendering and contracting government projects;
  10. It lacks both transparency and competitiveness.

Therefore, I suggested to the Ministry of Oil not to continue on wasting time and causing further delays: it should officially declare that it is not in Iraq’s economic interest and national security to award SIIP to ExxonMobil-CNPC (and for this matter to any one consortium) and end, immediately, all and any related negotiations.

In the event that the Ministry of Oil and/or the Government insist on going ahead with this Odious Contract with ExxonMobil-CNPC, it becomes inevitable to refer the matter to the Federal Supreme Court to invalidate the contract on the bases of incompatibility with the Constitution; for eradicating the highest interest of the Iraqi people, including future generations (principle of inter-generational equity)  and for returning Iraq to what looks like abhorrent concessions of the, colonial, past.

*A brief of the original Arabic text of the entire report was circulated widely within many networks and was published by and posted on many websites, and accessible on the following links:

الحذر يا وزارة النفط من “فخ العقد البغيض” مع شركة اكسون موبل

https://www.akhbaar.org/home/2019/8/261291.html

http://www.tellskuf.com/index.php/mq/83987-as174.html

http://www.sahat-altahreer.com/?p=49115

Click here to download the full article in pdf format.

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.

Indian Firm Wins $37m Seismic Contract in Iraq

By John Lee.

Indian-based Asian Oilfield Services Limited has announced that it has won orders totalling $37 million in Iraq.

The orders relate to seismic acquisition at Block 12, with $12 million for a 2D survey and $25 million for a 3D survey.

Block 12, located in the Najaf and Muthanna provinces, is being developed by Russia’s Rosneft, and PetroVietnam.

According to a statement issued to the Bombay Stock Exchange, the order is to be executed within FY20 and FY21.

The company has previously carried out 3D surveys at the Shakal block and Taza block in Iraqi Kurdistan.

(Source: Asian Oilfield Services)

Russia’s Gazprom Neft interested in Expanding in Iraq

By John Lee.

Russia’s Gazprom Neft is reported to be interested in expanding its operations in Iraq.

Reuters says boss Alexander Dyukov told the annual general meeting on Friday that the company, which is already developing the Badra oilfield, is also “looking at” the Mansuriyah gas field near the Iranian border.

It says that Iraqi government is expected to launch a tender to develop Mansuriyah later this year. Iraq Business News understands that the field is currently being developed by TPAO (37.5%), Oil Exploration Company (25%), Kuwait Energy (KEC) (22.5%), and Kogas (15%).

(Source: Reuters)

Lukoil, Oil Minister, discuss prospects for Cooperation

The President of Lukoil, Vagit Alekperov (pictured), has met with Thamir Abbas Ghadhban Al Ghadhban, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Oil of the Republic of Iraq, at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

The parties discussed the progress of West Qurna-2 project and agreed to consider the possibility of early commissioning of Eridu field (Block 10). The Minister of Oil of Iraq expressed the support of Lukoil’s initiatives aiming at development of Iraqi projects, fulfilling obligations under the Service Contracts.

The parties have also expressed their interest to consider gas ​processing and petrochemical projects in Iraq.

(Source: Lukoil)

Rosneft plans Geological Survey in Kurdistan in 2019

By John Lee.

Russia’s Rosneft will reportedly conduct geological exploration in Iraqi Kurdistan this year.

CEO Igor Sechin (pictured) is quoted as telling the annual general meeting:

“The company continues to implement the project to develop fields in Iraqi Kurdistan in the Middle East, where a geological exploration program is scheduled for this year to ensure production in the future.”

He added that pilot production at the Bijeel field began in the first quarter.

(Source: Tass)

Has Russia begun to Play a Role in Iraq?

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

Has Russia begun to play a role in Iraq?

Member of the Iraqi parliament’s Security and Defense Committee Hakim al-Zamili announced May 9 that negotiations were underway to buy an S-400 air missile system from Moscow.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov said during his meeting April 26 with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi that “the number of Russian companies in Iraq is on the rise.”

Ihsan al-Shammari, head of the Iraqi Centre for Political Thought, concurred. He told Al-Monitor that “Russia is working to compete with multinational companies in central and southern Iraq, particularly in the field of energy.

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