Fourth Oil Exec Jailed for Iraq Bribery

Paul Bond has today been sentenced to three and half years' imprisonment for conspiring with others to bribe Iraqi public officials to secure lucrative oil contracts in post-occupation Iraq.

Earlier this week, Bond, a former senior sales manager at SBM Offshore (SBM), was found guilty on two counts of conspiracy to give corrupt payments following a retrial of his case at Southwark Crown Court.

This was the fourth conviction the SFO secured in its wide-scale Unaoil bribery investigation, which uncovered the payment of over $17m worth of bribes to secure $1.7bn worth of contracts for Unaoil and its clients.

In 2007, the Iraqi Ministry of Oil set out a 'master plan' to rebuild Iraq's oil infrastructure, which had been destroyed after years of conflict. The post-occupation government tasked the state-owned South Oil Company (SOC) to commission the construction of new oil pipelines and the installation of single offshore mooring buoys (SPMs) in the Persian Gulf.

Together with Unaoil employees, Paul Bond funnelled $900,000 in bribes to Iraqi public officials at the SOC and the Ministry of Oil, which bought access to sensitive information, allowing Bond and others to skew the tendering process in SBM's favour. SBM went on to win a $55m contract for the provision of SPMs.

Lisa Osofsky, Director of the Serious Fraud Office, said:

"Bond and his co-conspirators manipulated the tendering process for an infrastructure project vital to Iraq's developing economy, with no regard for the impact.

The string of convictions in this case demonstrate the SFO's determination to root out and prosecute corrupt practices in all corners of the globe working with law enforcement partners across the world. "

Bond's conviction follows that of former Unaoil territory managers Stephen Whiteley and Ziad Akle, who were last year found guilty of conspiring to bribe Iraqi public officials to secure substantial oil contracts. In July 2019, Basil Al Jarah, Unaoil's former Iraq partner, pleaded guilty to five counts of conspiracy to give corrupt payments, and later asked for a number of additional offences to be taken into consideration, in total admitting to paying over $17m in bribes to secure contracts worth $1.7bn.

Ziad Akle was sentenced to five years' imprisonment, Stephen Whiteley to three years' imprisonment, and Basil Al Jarah to three years and four months' imprisonment for their crimes.

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.

More here.

(Source: SFO)

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Iraq plans 20GW Solar Power by 2030

By John Lee.

Iraq's Minister of Oil has his Ministry's goal is to support the Ministry of Electricity to have 20 gigawatts of solar energy capacity installed by 2030.

In a promotional video issued by the Government of Iraq, Ihsan Abdul Jabbar added that the recently-announced partnership with French energy company Total will include the production of clean solar energy in Southern Iraq.

He said the Ministry was in discussion with other oil producers, including BP, to use their sites to produce solar power.

(Source: Govt of Iraq)

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Weir to Deliver OPITO-Accredited Quals in Iraq

Weir Oil and Gas Approved to Deliver OPITO - Accredited Qualifications in Iraq

Weir Oil & Gas has successfully achieved accreditation from OPITO, the global skills organization for the energy industry, to provide occupational training qualifications from the Weir Oil & Gas Centre of Manufacturing and Engineering Excellence in Southern Iraq.

Weir Oil & Gas is the first training provider in Iraq to receive approval to deliver OPITO-accredited SCQF Level 4 and 5 occupational training qualifications in Basic Maintenance Practices and Maintenance Practices for Instrument, Control, and Mechanical Operations. The local delivery of these training programs will help ensure the availability of an in-country, technically skilled, knowledgeable and safety-conscious workforce.

Over the past three years, Weir Oil & Gas has delivered more than 15,000 combined internal and external training hours, mostly to Iraqi personnel, encompassing classroom-based learning and on-the-job training.

With a constant presence in Iraq since 2014, Weir Oil & Gas has increased its local content through skills development and the structured training of local nationals, focusing on oil and gas services professionals.

The collaboration with OPITO aligns with Weir Oil & Gas' vision to become a leading provider of oil and gas industry training and skills development in the Middle East, through enhancing the delivery of training to local nationals, and supporting skills development projects in Iraq and Oman for a portfolio of companies that includes major global oil companies.

Ronan Le Gloahec, President of Weir Oil & Gas Eastern Hemisphere, said, "Our partnership with OPITO will allow us to provide unparalleled local content and training for oil and gas personnel in Iraq, creating a solid and necessary foundation for companies operating in the region to flourish."

Richard Roberts, Regional Vice-President, MEA of OPITO, said, "Iraq's success as an oil and gas producer will, in part, be reliant on its ability to build a strong local talent pool through ensuring the availability of vocational technical skills in-country that are commensurate with international benchmarks. Our collaboration with Weir Oil & Gas is an important step forward in ensuring the delivery of accredited training programs in Iraq and the Middle East and will help safeguard the continued development of a competent energy sector workforce."

(Source: Weir)

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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)

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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)

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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

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)