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.

The post Jiyad: Iraq, and the China-Iran Cooperation Program first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Coronavirus: Iran to Shut Border with Iraq

Iran's minister of interior unveiled plans to shut the border with Iraq in the southwestern province of Khuzestan in order to contain a new wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said the Coronavirus Fight National Headquarters has made new decisions to control the coronavirus in Khuzestan province, where the number of COVID-19 cases has risen in recent days.

He said the border crossings with Iraq are going to be closed and travels between cities in the Khuzestan province will be prohibited.

He also expressed hope that cooperation from people would help control the situation in Khuzestan ahead of the new Iranian year's holidays.

Officials have warned that the coronavirus has begun to spread rapidly in Khuzestan, stressing the need for new travel bans and strict control at the border.

Several cities in the southwestern Iranian province have been categorized as red zones with high risk of infection.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

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Iraq, Iran to launch Joint Investment Fund

By John Lee.

Iraq and Iran are to launch a fund to finance joint ventures between the two countries.

In his closing remarks to the Iran-Iraq Economic Conference on Wednesday, Iran's Minister of Energy Reza Ardakanian said

"The proposal to establish a joint venture fund to support the private sector of the two countries was approved."

The conference also discussed plans to establish a branch of Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iraq.

(Source: Iranian Ministry of Energy)

The post Iraq, Iran to launch Joint Investment Fund first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Mansuriya Gas Contract “Cancelled”; Russia “Extremely Interested”

By John Lee.

Iraq has reportedly cancelled a contract to develop its Mansuriya gas field near the Iranian border.

Iraq Business News understands that, under a deal agreed in 2010, the field was being developed by Turkish Petroleum (TPAO) (37.5%), Iraqi Oil Exploration Company (25%), Kuwait Energy (KEC) (22.5%), and Kogas (15%).

According to Reuters, the consortium halted development in 2014 due to security concerns after the so-called Islamic State group overran large parts of Iraq.

Writing in Oil Price, Simon Watkins says "Russia has again made it clear that it is extremely interested in taking over the development contract of Iraq's Mansuriya gas field following the recent termination of the contract with a consortium led by Turkey's state-owned TPAO."

More here and here.

(Sources: Reuters, Oil Price)

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Drug Smuggling and Abuse on the Rise in Iraq

By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Drug smuggling, abuse on the rise in Iraq

Iraq suffers from the flow of drugs from neighboring countries, especially Iran, through the marshes and other border crossings, and the spread among the youth has become a threat to society.

Click here to read the full story.

The post Drug Smuggling and Abuse on the Rise in Iraq first appeared on Iraq Business News.