Iraq may Buy Exxon stake in West Qurna 1

By John Lee.

Press reports quote Iraq's oil minister as saying that Iraq could buy ExxonMobil's 32.7-percent stake in the West Qurna 1 oil field.

Ihssan Abdul-Jabbar Ismail told a news conference on Monday that the government might purchase the stake via the state-owned Basra Oil Company (BOC).

BOC previously took over the Majnoon field from Shell and Petronas at the end of June 2018.

It had previously been rumoured (see here and here) that China would take over Exxon's holding in West Qurna 1.

Earlier this year, ExxonMobil sold its share in the Baeshiqa license in the Kurdistan region of Iraq to DNO.

(Sources: Reuters, Bloomberg)

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Chinese Company to Develop Iraq’s Mansuriyah Gas Field

By John Lee.

The Chinese company Sinopec (China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation) has won a contract to develop the Mansuriyah gas field in Diyala.

The field, near the Iranian border, is expected to produce 300 million standard cubic feet (Mmscf) per day of gas, which will be used for electricity generation.

In 2010, an agreement had been signed for the field to be developed by Turkish Petroleum (TPAO) (37.5%), Iraqi Oil Exploration Company (25%), Kuwait Energy (KEC) (22.5%), and Kogas (15%). This consortium stopped development in 2014 due to security concerns, and the agreement was reportedly cancelled in 2020.

Under the new 25-year deal agreed on Tuesday, Sinopec will have a 49-percent interest in the field, with Iraq's state-owned Midland [Middle, Central] Oil Company having 51 percent.

The contract may be extended for an additional five years.

According to the Ministry of Oil, Sinopec's bid was he lowest submitted.

(Source: Ministry of Oil)

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Jiyad: Iraq, and the China-Iran Cooperation Program

By Ahmed Mousa Jiyad.

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

Iraq and the China-Iran Comprehensive Cooperation Program

The China-Iran Comprehensive Cooperation Program (CICCP) was signed on 27 March 2021; two days later the CICCP's direct impacts on Iraq began emerging and one of such impacts seems to benefits both Iraq and Iran!!

A few days ago I completed a detailed preliminary assessment of CICCP document. The assessment was written in Arabic entitled "China-Iran Comprehensive Cooperation Program: Tactically Important Strategically Impacting if Implemented", it was circulated widely and posted on many websites.

The assessment uses composite methodology of three researches approaches (Text analysis, SCOR (Strength, Challenges; Opportunities and Requirements) and facts/evidence based) and comprises an introduction, three parts and concluding remarks. Part one provide brief review of CICCP document structure: preamble, articles, annexes, effective date and term of the deal, coordinating and supervising authorities. Part two, provides detailed assessment of eight fundamental topics/ areas of cooperation, from the perspectives of the political economy of bilateral relations and geopolitical considerations. Part three provides the direct official reactions to CICCP from Iraq, USA, Arab Gulf States/Saudi Arabia and Russia.

The political economy perspectives are related to the following basic issues: The first relates to the nature of bilateral relations in terms of sovereign independence or dependency and hegemony; the second is whether the principle of "mutually beneficial" is also equitable; the third concerns the structuring of the Iranian economy on whether the deal will eventually deepens the dependence on the export of raw materials, oil and gas, or introduces the required and desirable structural changes horizontal, vertical and knowledge-based levels; and the fourth is about the financial and banking independence, monetary and currency issues pertaining to funding investments and trade exchange.

The geopolitical considerations were addressed at four levels, starting from the domestic (national for both countries), continental (Asian from China to Syria), regional (West Asia / Middle East) and international levels.

The assessment argues that the timing of signing and announcing CICCP is tactically motivated and important, while its proper and timely implementation could be a game-changer and thus strategically impacting; but, as usual, reality seldom coincides with expectations.

This brief intervention focuses on the direct current evidenced impacts on Iraq. Interested readers are kindly invited to read the Arabic version of my detailed initial assessment through the web-links mentioned at the end of this article.

In a remarkable speed and substance CICCP has already prompted both Iraq and the US to react!

First; after the current prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, denied, rather harshly, in a press conference on November 18, 2020, the existence of an Iraq-China agreement by saying, 'You know there is no China agreement, why are you promoting these lies?', he returned to authorize, on March 30 - that is, only three days after the signing of CICCP, "to start implementing the Chinese agreement"!!

While I do not find it necessary, now, to discuss what has happened between Iraq and China since the government of Haider al-Abadi, I find it useful to remember the statement by the Prime Minister's Financial Affairs Adviser, Dr. Modhir Muhammad Saleh, on March 29, 2021, that the "Iraq-China agreement" became effective on October 18, 2020, and then he affirmed the "cooperation framework agreement ... and the final accounting and oil annexes were signed on September 23, 2019." So why has not been published to this day any official document on this agreement / cooperation framework agreement, nor any of its annexes or memoranda of cooperation/ understanding related to it!!??

But there is a document at the Ministry of Finance entitled "Export Credit Insurance Cooperation Framework" between the China Export & Credit  Insurance Corporation and the Iraqi Ministry of Finance) dating back to May 11, 2018 (that is, before the date of the agreement signed by former Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi) !!!!

It is worth mentioning that 2021 State Budget Law includes a few infrastructure projects worth 1.803 trillion Iraq Dinnar to be funded, presumably by the above mentioned 2018 framework; since there is no new framework agreement officially published by the Ministry of Finance, nor approved by the Council of Ministers, nor legislated by the House of Representatives/ the Parliament. Moreover, even if such agreement is ratified and activated it utilization will be differed to future state budget for 2022 or even 2023 because of the national election scheduled for October this year.

Apparently, CICCP was a wakeup call for the Iraqi government but it is in reality too late for 2021 budget funding.

But on the other hand, the Iraqi Premier rushed for quick visits to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, immediately after signing CICCP; is there a relationship between the two events? Time will only tell!!!!

Second, among direct reactions by the US administration and as far as Iraq is concerned relates to Iraq-Iran interests. Just two days after signing the CICCP the U.S. renewed and extended the Iraqi exemption from the practices of maximum US pressure on Iran from 45 to 120 days; a waiver to avoid penalties for buying natural gas and electricity from Iran. This exception entails two positive consequences for both Iraq and Iran: the first is to ensure the continued supply of Iranian gas to generates electricity; this what the Iraqis suffer from its shortages especially the heated summer is on the doorstep, and the second is that Iraq pays Iran's accumulated dues for importing gas and electric power (which constitutes about a third Iraq's production of electricity) as the total of those receivables were mentioned in the 2021 budget, about 1688 billion Iraqi dinars.

Third, another important reaction by the US administration was its quick decision to hold a new round of strategic dialogue with Iraq; the discussions began on April 7, and mainly relate to the issue of US forces remaining in Iraq and the Strategic Framework Agreement signed in December 2008. (This agreement and related matters face strong opposition and many important, influential, legal and judicial challenges, especially after the Trump administration assassinated two leading heavy weight individuals, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis (Iraq) and General Qassem Soleimani (Iran), on January 3, 2021 near Baghdad airport).

It is worth noting that energy cooperation is one of the eight topics included in the said strategic framework agreement. Evidence suggests that the previous round of the Iraqi-American Committee for the Coordination of Cooperation in the Field of Energy, which was held, virtually remotely, on January 18 of this year was brief and did not include any important issues or noticeable impacts or new achievements. Hence, it did not attract attention from domestic or external media. Even the two ministries, i.e, Oil and Electricity, that should be directly involved, hardly mentioned anything on their websites on that latest meeting. Will CICCP invigorate Iraqi-American cooperation for the benefit of the energy sector in Iraq?? Who knows, will see!!!

Click here to download the full report 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.

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New Contracts for Iraqi Drilling Company (IDC)

By John Lee.

The Iraqi Drilling Company (IDC) has announced its intention to conclude contracts with Chinese and American companies operating in Iraq to drill and rehabilitate dozens of oil wells in the country.

The company indicated it is about to start drilling 20 wells in the Nasiriyah field in Dhi Qar, which are included in a long-term plan with the Dhi Qar Oil Company (DQOC) to advance the oil sector, due to be completed in over two years.

After the relative relaxation of the impacts of the coronavirus, the Iraqi Drilling Company resumed its negotiations with the international companies developing oil fields in the country and their counterparts affiliated with the Ministry of Oil in the provinces, in preparation for signing the postponed contracts with the aim of enhancing Iraq's energy capabilities.

The drilling and rehabilitation contracts, hoped to be concluded soon, include drilling 37 wells in the Zubair field for the Italian company ENI, the main operator of the field, and starting discussions with BP, the main contractor in the Rumaila field, to develop the giant field west of Basra.

This is in addition to the near signing of a contract to drill 43 wells in Majnoon field with the Basra Oil Company (BOC), which is the third largest oil field in the world, with reserves of 6.12 billion barrels.

The Iraqi Drilling Company has completed all its preparations to sign a contract with the Central Oil Company, to drill 27 wells in the East Baghdad field, and it continues its discussions with the Maysan [Missan] Oil Company (MOC) to sign a contract for drilling 22 wells in the Bazargan field as well as rehabilitating another 150 wells and a contract to operate a number of drilling towers and rehabilitation of a large number of wells in the Kirkuk fields with the North Oil Company (NOC).

(Source: Govt of Iraq)

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Cabinet Extends Contracts of KBR and Antonoil at Majnoon

By John Lee.

The Iraqi Cabinet has approved the renewal of two contracts at the Majnoon oil field.

Chinese company Anton Oilfield Services Group (Antonoil) is to continue to provide Integrated Field Management, while the American company KBR will provide Engineering, Procurement and Construction Management (EPCM).

The decision allows for the extension of the contracts for two more years, with an option to increase that to three years.

Both companies were awarded the contract by Basra Oil Company (BOC) in 2018, when BOC took over operations at Majnoon from Shell.

(Source: Office of the Prime Minister)

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Iraq to buy Chinese COVID Vaccine

By John Lee.

The Iraqi Cabinet held its weekly meeting on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi.

At the start of the meeting, the Prime Minister praised the efforts of state institutions and agencies to ensure the implementation of curfew regulations, and thanked all citizens for adhering to preventative health measures.

Following discussions, the Cabinet agreed to authorise the Ministry of Health to purchase the coronavirus vaccine from the Chinese company Sinopharm.

(Source: Govt of Iraq)

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Iraq “Pauses Oil Pre-Payment deal with China”

By John Lee.

Iraq has reportedly "put on hold" it oil contract with China's Zhenhua Oil.

The multi-billion-dollar agreement would have seen Zhenhua pre-pay Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) for a regular supply of crude oil.

Oil prices have risen significantly since the deal was struck.

More here.

(Source: S&P Global)

The post Iraq "Pauses Oil Pre-Payment deal with China" first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Chinese Consortium to Develop Dhi Qar Refinery

By John Lee.

Iraq's Ministry of Oil has signed an outline agreement with a Chinese consortium for the development of the Dhi Qar refinery.

A Ministry official described the signing of the initial principles agreement as an important step forward, and a prelude to the signing of the final investment contract for the Dhi Qar refinery project, which will have a capacity of 100,000 barrels per day (bpd).

The Director General of the Southern Refineries Company (SRC), Hussam Wali, said that the final signature of the contract will be made "after the completion of the economic model of the investment contract", and it is hoped that this will take place within three months.

The consortium consists of Chinese state-owned arms manufacturer Norinco (which owns ZhenHua Oil), Power China (Power Construction Corporation of China), CNEC (China Nuclear Engineering & Construction?) and the UAE Company for Middle Services Ltd.

(Source: Ministry of Oil)

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Iraq signs $2bn Oil Deal with Chinese Firm

By John Lee.

Iraq has reportedly awarded a Chinese company a deal which would see it paying $2 billion upfront for a year's supply of oil.

Alaa al-Yasiri, General Manager of State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) told Iraqi News Agency (INA) that a Chinese company had won the contract ahead of a European company, but did not identify the company.

Bloomberg had previously reported that China's ZhenHua Oil was poised to sign the contract.

More here and here.

(Sources: Bloomberg, FT, INA)

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