Successful IBBC Conference in Dubai

IBBC's 5th Annual Iraq Conference in Dubai - Opportunity in Adversity

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) was much praised at its conference on Thursday for pioneering in COVID-19 times by bringing together senior officials from Iraq, the UAE and the UK, prominent international and Iraqi businessmen, bankers and professional advisers as speakers and over 100 delegates.

With the Address Hotel as host venue implementing the strictest hygiene regime and using video links, delegates enjoyed a day of vigorous analysis and debate about the issues currently creating the adverse conditions dominating the Iraqi political and business landscape and what measures were needed to improve matters, but nevertheless inspirational presentations highlighted success stories across a number of sectors in panel sessions covering energy, finance, infrastructure/logistics and tech.

Highlights of the day were presentations made by Mrs Zena Yousif Iraq consul general in Dubai, the first woman to ever hold that position, and the fact that all the leaders of the energy companies presenting were Iraqi nationals for the first time ever, namely Mr Zaid Elyaseri, Vice President Iraq from BP, Mr Ali Al Janabi, Chairman, from Shell, Mr Musab Alkateeb, Managing Director, from Siemens Energy, and all were addressing common global issues currently affecting that sector - low oil and gas prices, environmental and green issues.

Mr Aziz Khudairi, Chairman of the Khudairi Group with multiple businesses in Iraq urged the Iraqi Government to embrace the private sector to grow prosperity in Iraq and to provide employment for the millions of young Iraqis, to protect Iraqi businesses from unfair dumping by foreign competitors, but in return emphasised the need for the Iraqi workforce to rediscover a work ethic so that Iraqi companies would become efficient and profitable.

Baroness Nicholson made her Welcome Address by video link from London and at the end of the day announced the new annual award to be made to an Iraqi SME for its contribution to business in Iraq, in memory of the recently deceased Engineer Rasmi al Jabri, IBBC deputy chairman.

Amongst the many excellent speakers were:

  • H.E. Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, UAE
  • H.E. Dr Abdulkariem Al Faisal, Chairman of the Prime Minister's Advisory Commission
  • Mrs Zena Yousif, Consulate General of Iraq in Dubai
  • Mr Simon Penny, Her Majesty's UK Trade Commissioner for the Middle East

Conference Sponsors were Basra Gateway Terminal, Siemens Energy and Serco.

Vikas Handa of Gulftek, Conference chairman said:

"Today's IBBC conference in Dubai is the testimony of human resilience on the face of adversity. We had unexpected turnout & great participation from the ministers, industry leaders and businesses from Iraq, UAE & UK.

"We covered a lot of ground to chart the way forward, network & learn from each other. I along with IBBC MD Christophe Michels would like to thank our key members for their unwavering support to make it happen."

In parallel

The Tech Forum took place online, with participants from Iraq, UK, Dubai and France, to review and discuss the digitisation of Iraq, based on the World Bank's Report in April.

Chaired by Ashley Goodall of IBBC, we reviewed how the Government of Iraq ( GOI ) and digital development in general has been evolving since April, as Alexandre Laure, the World bank Sector specialist, who wrote the report - shared with us areas of development : namely, 6 key areas : Digital inclusion, banking and finance, Investment, Infrastructure, SMEs and start-ups, skill development and linking to external digital organisations. Two areas of progress include the establishment of a Tech fund for start-ups and SME investment, and the payment of Government salaries directly to bank accounts digitally. Additionally, there are areas of deregulation for start -ups and new businesses, although the registration cost of $37500 was deemed exclusionary for most start-ups.

Jawad Abbasi of GSMA MENA said that 4G infrastructure is critical in extending internet across Iraq, and this has been put on hold for the moment. This would increase the ability of users to trade, exchange and create new products on-line, as well as boost the digital economy. Yazen Altimimi CEO of Zain Cash echoed this issue as Zain are often blamed for poor internet experience, when it's an infrastructure issue. Zain's consumer uptake is rapid and there is a healthy growth and interest in the digital economy as a business and consumer medium. If 4G can be delivered the economy will see a rapid upswing. In short there is pent up demand and an appetite from consumers to transact on- line, so it makes sense to deliver 4G to ensure the whole economy expands.

Laura Oliver, director of Iraq Tech Ventures, amplified the issue for start -ups and SME.s who want to trade on line, and the raised the issue of the high cost of registration that prohibits start-ups registering formally, and therefore rely on the cash economy, so they are unable to get formal credit and investment. These two issues, of 4G and registration should be straight forward to address and would make a big different to the overall digital development of the Iraqi economy, and encourage investment from external digital companies like Facebook, Amazon and Google.

In a second panel: Online Consumer behaviour, Caroline McGarr of ThinkBank - a leading research agency in Irbil, presented key finding among Iraqi consumers between 18-45, and again found a big demand for consumer goods, banking on line for an unbanked 83% of the population. In sectors such as Fashion, health and social media there is enormous pent up demand as over 50% of these people spend over 5 hours a day on-line. Again, the issue of reliable internet, useful apps and products to purchase and reliability of banking, echo the first panel's concerns.

The overall message from both panels is that there is huge unmet demand among youthful Iraqi's for more services, better internet, better banking (trust) and online interaction with Government and products that will be better served by better internet and the proliferation of new goods and services from SMEs and start-ups, who themselves are constrained by registration fees and investment.

A full video of the sessions, including the presentation charts can be viewed here

For more information please contact london@webuildiraq.org

(Source: IBBC)

The post Successful IBBC Conference in Dubai first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Amarinth delivers $650k Pumps to Garraf Oilfield

UK-based pump company Amarinth has delivered four API 610 VS4 vertical pumps with Plan 53B seal support systems for the Oil Train 5 Project at Garraf oilfield.

Located at the northwest of Al-Refaei, approximately 85 kilometers north of the City of Nasiriya, half way between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the southeast of Iraq, Garraf is the fifth largest oil and gas field in Iraq with estimated reserves of 1 million barrels of oil.

Petronas and its partners are currently increasing production in the field, and the addition of Oil Train 5 is expected to bring this up to 230,000 barrels per day.

The $650,000 order of four API 610 VS4 vertical pumps with Plan 53B seal support systems was placed with Amarinth by China Petroleum Engineering Procurement & Construction (CPECC).

According to a press release from the company, this was the first time that CPECC had ordered from Amarinth and the decision was made based on Amarinth's proven ability to design and deliver bespoke API 610 pumps for hazardous areas, along with the company's previous experience of successfully supplying pumps for the Iraq market, all to strict deadlines.

The pumps were manufactured in Inconel Alloy 625, a nickel-based superalloy that possesses high strength properties, resistance to elevated temperatures and excellent protection against corrosion and oxidation. In addition, the Plan 53B seal support systems required a bespoke mounting configuration and piping design.

Amarinth successfully completed the design, manufacture, and delivery within the required 34 weeks.

Oliver Brigginshaw, Managing Director of Amarinth, commented:

"We are delighted with this first order from CPECC, again underlining our strength in the Middle East, and in particular our ability to delivery API 610 pumps into the developing oil and gas projects in Iraq."

(Source: Amarinth)

The post Amarinth delivers 0k Pumps to Garraf Oilfield first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Why you should come to IBBC Conference: Opportunity in Adversity

Why you should come to the IBBC Conference in Dubai, entitled 'Opportunity in Adversity'

On 19th November the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) is holding its Autumn conference in person at the Address hotel Dubai Marina.

Some would say it's a brave decision, considering COVID, but others are keen to take up the challenge and opportunity to engage, meet, listen to expert business voices of Iraq and overall have proper opportunities for networking.

Not only do we have a good level of members signed up to attend, but also one of the strongest line ups of speakers, ready and willing to address the opportunities for Iraq in 2020.

The backdrop to this conference is not just COVID, but the election of a new American President, rising oil prices, a fundamental change in the way oil and gas companies are globally which will also affect their work in Iraq, a Government willing and able to make significant changes, in the way finance operates, investors can start up and a white paper that will impact a range of activity and on-going digital modernisation.

All these topics will be covered, and we are expecting significant speakers and attendees from our membership and the Ministry of Oil, the Deputy Minister of Electricity, and online from the World Bank, Central Bank payments director and Ministry of Communications, Mastercard and Zain Cash to name a few.

You can hear about one of the biggest changes as the oil and gas companies redefine themselves as Energy companies, and vertically integrate fuel with electricity generation. BP, Shell, Siemens and Ministry of Electricity will address this and other matters on the Energy panel.

On the Finance panel, we are looking at how to operate successfully in the present very challenging financial situation of the country. New proposals by the Government's white paper will also be discussed and how these align with the need of private sector.

Finally, the Tech Forum with the World Bank on the digitisation of Iraq, the progress that is being made with GOI, and to hear from Mastercard and GSMA and Thinkbank on consumer online behaviour and attitudes.

Now is a great opportunity for change and we believe Iraq won't let the opportunity go to waste. Iraq is at a critical inflection point and the Government understands the importance of encouraging the private sector as a vehicle to solving investment, jobs and diversifying the economy at this time, which is why we are expecting a strong attendance from members and speakers alike from sectors crucial to Iraq's future.

As we look to the coming year, we see a Government making good decisions, investing in large projects, understanding the importance of diversifying its economy and also providing work and opportunity to its young population.

Now is the time to turn up, attend and make plans for the future of Iraq, and we look forward to welcoming you.

Please register here:

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

The post Why you should come to IBBC Conference: Opportunity in Adversity first appeared on Iraq Business News.

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)

The post Former Unaoil Exec Jailed over Bribery in Iraq first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Caterpillar to take over Weir Oil and Gas

By John Lee.

Scottish engineering company Weir Group has announced the sale of its Oil & Gas division to US-based Caterpillar Inc.

The all-cash sale gives its Texas-based division an enterprise value of US$405m (£314m), subject to customary working capital and debt-like adjustments at closing.

The move is part of Weir's strategy to become a "premium mining technology pure play". 

Weir's Iraqi operations are managed from North Rumaila, where it provides mechanical and rotating equipment repairs and upgrades, oilfield and drilling equipment repair and certification, asset management and field services.

(Source: Weir)

The post Caterpillar to take over Weir Oil and Gas first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Iraq discusses sourcing Covid Vaccine with AstraZeneca

By John Lee.

The Ambassador of Republic of Iraq in London, Mr. Muhammad Jaafar Al-Sadr, chaired a meeting with representatives of the British pharmaceutical group, AstraZeneca, which is a leading company in Coronavirus vaccine in cooperation with the University of Oxford in Britain, through video conference.

The meeting discussed the possibility of Iraq obtaining adequate doses of the vaccine produced by the company that are being developed, in addition to the possibility of the early launch of the vaccine.

During the meeting, the Ambassador thanked the group for the efforts made by the company to produce the vaccine, which would be a scientific achievement to protect humanity from the risks of infection with the Coronavirus, stressing Iraq's desire to obtain the vaccine after its production.

While the company has expressed its readiness to supply Iraq with the vaccine after the last experimental stages which will be ready by the end of this year, especially after making sure of its safety, effectiveness and compliance with international health standards. The company is conducting clinical trials of the vaccine in several regions of the world, including the United States, Russia and a number of Latin American countries.

This meeting comes within a series of meetings held by the embassy with the company and other pharmaceutical companies in order to ensure that Iraq receives the vaccine in the start of its production.

(Source: Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

The post Iraq discusses sourcing Covid Vaccine with AstraZeneca first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Fmr Unaoil Exec Jailed for Iraq Bribery

Ziad Akle, Unaoil's territory manager for Iraq, has been sentenced to five years' imprisonment for paying over $500,000 in bribes to secure a $55m contract to supply offshore mooring buoys.

The new buoys formed part of the post-occupation Iraqi government's "Master Plan" to rebuild Iraq's oil industry and thereby expand the country's oil export capacity. To ensure Unaoil benefitted from these state-run projects, Akle, conspiring with Stephen Whiteley and others, bribed public officials at the South Oil Company to secure contracts for Unaoil and its clients.

In his sentencing, HHJ Beddoe said:

"The offences were committed across borders at a time of serious need for the government of Iraq to rebuild after years of sanctions and the devastation of war. They were utterly exploitative at a time when the economic and political situation in Iraq was extremely fragile."

A jury at Southwark Crown Court found Akle guilty on two counts of conspiracy to give corrupt payments. Another individual, Stephen Whiteley, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to give corrupt payments in relation to the same crime. He will be sentenced on a date to be determined.

SFO Director Lisa Osofsky said:

"Ziad Akle and his co-conspirators exploited a country reeling from years of dictatorship and military occupation to line his own pockets and win business. It is this combination of greed and heartless avarice that led to these convictions.

"Today's sentencing sends a clear message that the United Kingdom and the SFO will not tolerate criminal activity that undermines the fairness and integrity of international business."

The convictions followed the guilty pleas of co-conspirator Basil Al Jarah who, in July 2019, admitted five offences of conspiracy to give corrupt payments. Al Jarah, who admitted to paying bribes totalling over $6million to secure contracts worth $800m for the supply of oil pipelines and offshore mooring buoys, is due to be sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on 8 October 2020.

(Source: SFO)

Webinar: Opportunities and Challenges for Diversification in Iraq

Iraq Business News would like to recommend an excellent and informative webinar from the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC)'s Young Executives Network (YEN), featuring a discussion with Ali Al-Saffar, the Middle East and North Africa Program Manager at the International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris.

Ali shared his insights on "The importance of oil and gas to Iraq's economy and the opportunities for and challenges to diversification".

Also on the panel were Mr Sammy Sharifi, Co-Chair of IBBC YEN, and Ms Layla Al-Hassani of BP and Co-Chair of IBBC YEN.

To watch this Webinar please click here or here.

Iraq Corruption Case: Former Oil Execs Convicted

By John Lee.

The UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has secured convictions against two former oil executives who conspired to give corrupt payments to secure contracts in Iraq.

A jury at Southwark Crown Court found Ziad Akle guilty on two counts and Stephen Whiteley guilty on one count of conspiracy to give corrupt payments. The convictions follow the guilty pleas of co-conspirator Basil Al Jarah who, in July 2019, admitted five offences of conspiracy to give corrupt payments.

In the years of reconstruction following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the three men conspired with others to pay bribes to public officials at the Iraqi South Oil Company (SOC) and, and in Basil Al Jarah's case the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, to secure oil contracts for Unaoil and its clients.

The post-occupation Iraqi government had commissioned the South Oil Company to run projects as part of a "Master Plan" to rebuild Iraq's oil industry and thereby expand the country's oil export capacity. This included the installation of offshore mooring buoys and new oil pipelines.

To ensure Unaoil benefitted from these state-run projects, the defendants and co-conspirators conspired to bribe public officials at the South Oil Company and Ministry of Oil to secure contracts for Unaoil and its clients SBM Offshore. Basil Al Jarah also conspired to bribe public officials at the South Oil Company and the Ministry of Oil to secure contracts for Unaoil and its client Leighton Offshore.

Basil Al Jarah admitted to paying bribes totalling over $6million to secure contracts worth $800m for the supply of oil pipelines and offshore mooring buoys. Ziad Akle and Stephen Whiteley were found guilty of paying over $500,000 in bribes to secure the $55m contract for the offshore mooring buoys.

SFO Director Lisa Osofsky said:

"These men dishonestly and corruptly took advantage of a government reeling from dictatorship and occupation, and trying to reconstruct a war-torn state. They abused the system to cut out competitors and line their own pockets.

"It is our mission to pursue and bring to justice those who use criminal means to weaken the integrity of business."

The SFO would like to thank the Australian Federal Police, the French Parquet National Financier, the Police Judiciaires of the Principality of Monaco, the Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD) of the Netherlands, the United States Department of Justice, Greater Manchester Police, the Metropolitan Police, the National Crime Agency and West Mercia Constabulary for their valuable assistance in this case.

The men are due to be sentenced on 22 and 23 July 2020.

More here.

(Source: UK SFO)

IBBC, World Bank introduce Free Training for Iraqi SMEs

You are invited to help IBBC and World Bank to introduce Iraqi SME's to FREE business training courses

WHEN: 29th June, 6pm to 8pm Iraq time

Please share this free business training initiative and the course registration with any SME in your network, however small, and encourage them to sign up.

Arabic version for sharing with your contacts here
WebEx Link: Join Using WebEx

YouTube Livestream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxeuaarijuE

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) has been asked by the World Bank to support them in the promotion of business resilience and training courses for SME's in Iraq.

The driver behind this initiative is to give Iraqi SME's support to ride out and survive the business effects of COVID-19 pandemic and the effect it has particularly on the smaller businesses in the economy.

The support is in the form of four free business training courses that SME's can take via Webex or Youtube, provided they sign up.

As a partner to the World Bank, IBBC is contacting our Chambers of Commerce and Union contacts, and those businesses we can alert.

The courses cover four topics :

  1. Business Planning.
  2. Accessing Finance.
  3. Communicating.
  4. Thriving.

We recognise that your suppliers are most likely to be already well prepared, but if there are some who may be finding the current economic climate challenging, these courses will provide a good sense check to best practice.

Please follow this link for the WebEx how-to manual in English

Please follow this link for the WebEx how-to manual in Arabic

Please let us know if there are any further questions by contacting london@webuildiraq.org

We very much hope that your teams will be able to share these courses with your supplier and business ecology.

(Source: IBBC)