The KRG Turns Thirty: The Future of US-Kurdish Relations (Part III)

By James Jeffrey, Matthew Amitrano and Bilal Wahab for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The KRG Turns Thirty: The Future of U.S.-Kurdish Relations in Iraq

Three experts evaluate the KRG's oil and gas industry and discuss the growing urgency of resolving its disputes with Baghdad.

Click here to see the full article and video.

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Schlumberger “Withdraws from Iraqi Kurdistan”

By John Lee.

Schlumberger has reportedly announced its withdrawal from Iraqi Kurdistan, as a result of the Federal Supreme Court ruling that oil contracts signed with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) are unconstitutional.

Sources told the official Iraqi News Agency that the US-based oilfield services company "sent a letter with an official document to the Iraqi Oil Ministry in its commitment to Federal Court Decision No. 59, which includes not dealing with the Kurdistan region regarding the oil file."

The news agency adds that a similar decision was taken previously by Baker Hughes.

Schlumberger has been active at several fields in southern Iraq, drilling 37 oil wells in the Al-Zubair field in Basra, drilling 96 horizontal and diagonal oil wells at the West Qurna 1 field, and drilling 40 new wells at Majnoon oilfield.

(Source: Iraqi News Agency)

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The Necessary US Role in Fixing Baghdad-Kurdistan Energy Dispute

By Michael Knights, for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The Necessary U.S. Role in Fixing the Baghdad-Kurdistan Energy Dispute

On February 15, 2022, Iraq's Federal Supreme Court ruled that the 2007 oil and gas law for the Kurdistan Region was unconstitutional, requiring a review of numerous production sharing contracts and oil sales agreements.

If the case prevents oil exports via Iraqi Kurdistan, then the world market will almost immediately lose 500,000 barrels per day, triggering higher oil prices, expanded windfalls for Russia and Iran, the collapse of Iraqi Kurdistan's economy, and a dangerous turn in Baghdad's ties with Erbil and with Ankara.

In this timely Policy Note, Iraq expert Michael Knights calls for the United States to act with other concerned states to resolve the Baghdad-Erbil energy crisis. In doing so, he categorizes the sub-issues of FSC implementation on a spectrum from higher to lower consensus, and explains both sides' views in an unvarnished, direct manner.

A targeted intervention by the United States and its partners, the author argues, could guide the dispute toward a long-overdue resolution that greatly aids U.S. interests and the global effort to find a substitute for Russian and Iranian oil and gas.

Click here to read the full report.

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KRG PM ‘deeply troubled’ by attacks on Khor Mor Oilfield

From the Kurdistan Regional Government:

Like citizens across the Kurdistan, I have been deeply troubled by the repeated terror attacks on our people and public infrastructure in recent months. The cowards behind the attacks have resorted to terror tactics because they have lost the court of public opinion in the rest of the country.

Rather than focus on the future, and economic integration to lift all of the country, lawless groups have resorted to rocket attacks on our villages and civilians.

I have spoken by phone with key political partners in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq, and our friends abroad. During my call with Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhimi, I emphasized the need for joint Peshmerga and Iraqi security forces to fill any remaining vacuum in the disputed territories used by lawless groups to recklessly destabilize the whole of the country.

I explained to the Prime Minister that the attacks threaten the country's electricity provision and the investment climate for all the country, and I have urged him to take public, practical measures to rein in the groups.

I have also directed both Ministers of Peshmerga Affairs and Interior to take all measures necessary to protect critical public infrastructure and oil and gas installations. As part of the plan, we have agreed to reinforce the area with additional forces. More measures will be reviewed in the coming days.

Last night, I also spoke with White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk. Our American friends, and every investor must remain committed; we cannot give into fear. Over the next few days, I will urge our international friends and partners, and the UN Security Council to renew efforts with Erbil and Baghdad and explore ways for us both to protect against more terror attack.

The KRG deeply values and will defend and protect investments in its oil and gas sector and all public infrastructure. I have made it clear that an attack anywhere on Kurdistan is an attack on all of Kurdistan and its peoples.

In this moment of national concern, I urge our people to stay resolute. This is a blatant attack on our infrastructure, and part of a concerted effort to deter us from our strategic plans and reform agenda. Our resilience will not be shaken.

Masrour Barzani

Prime Minister of Kurdistan Regional Government

(Source: KRG)

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Two Injured in Rocket Attack at Khor Mor Gas Field

Dana Gas (PJSC) informs the market that, a small rocket landed yesterday afternoon within the Khor Mor block in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

No damage occurred and production operations continued normally without interruption.

Two contractor staff were treated for minor injuries related to the blast but have returned to work.

The company is cooperating with local security services who are conducting a full investigation and the KRG has enhanced measures and security forces in the area.

(Source: Dana Gas)

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KRG files Civil suit against Baghdad Minister of Oil

By John Lee.

The Minister of Natural Resources of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has filed a civil suit against the Baghdad Minister of Oil, accusing him of sending emails and letters with the intention of intimidating international oil companies (IOCs) and interfering with the contractual rights of the IOCs and the KRG.

The KRG has also filed a criminal complaint against a Director General in the Baghdad Ministry of Oil for allegedly abusing his power and position by intimidating and harassing the IOCs working in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

This follows a series of summonses issued to the IOCs by a court in Baghdad, relating to their operations in Kurdistan Region.

Full statement from the KRG:

On 19 May 2022, a commercial court sitting in Al Karkh, Baghdad, acted at the request of the Minister of Oil in Baghdad and purported to issue summonses to international oil companies (IOCs) operating within the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Those IOCs - which include Addax, DNO, Genel, Gulf Keystone, HKN, Shamaran, and WesternZagros - operate in the Kurdistan Region in accordance with the Kurdistan Region's Oil and Gas Law (No. 22 of 2007), which was issued by the Kurdistan Regional Government in accordance with its powers under the Constitution of Iraq.

These court summonses are the latest in a series of illegal actions taken by the Minister of Oil and his staff under the current caretaker government in Baghdad. These illegal actions are apparently based upon a ruling by a court in Baghdad that calls itself the "Federal Supreme Court". This so-called "Federal Supreme Court" issued a politically motivated decision on 15 February 2022, which purported to declare the 2007 Oil and Gas Law void.

No court in Baghdad has the authority to make such a declaration. On 28 February 2022, the President of the Kurdistan Region, together with the presidents of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the Kurdistan Regional Government, issued a statement rejecting the 15 February decision. On 4 June 2022, the Judicial Council, the highest judicial institution in the Kurdistan Region, issued a statement upholding the validity of the 2007 Oil and Gas Law. The Council noted that Article 92(2) of the Constitution of Iraq requires that the Iraqi Council of Representatives pass a law to establish an Iraqi Federal Supreme Court. No such law has ever been enacted. Iraq, therefore, does not have a constitutionally established Federal Supreme Court. The court that issued the 15 February 2022 opinion purporting to invalidate the 2007 Oil and Gas Law has no constitutional authority to do so. On the contrary, the issuance of the 2007 Oil and Gas Law was entirely authorised under the Constitution of Iraq. As such, legally, the Oil and Gas Law remains in full force.

On 2 June 2022, the Kurdistan Regional Government filed a criminal complaint against a Director General in the Baghdad Ministry of Oil for abusing his power and position by intimidating and harassing the IOCs working in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. In the view of the Kurdistan Regional Government, emails and letters sent to the IOCs undertaking work in the Kurdistan Region by that Director General were sent with the intention of intimidating the IOCs and interfering with the contractual rights of the IOCs and the Kurdistan Regional Government. The contracts entered into between the IOCs and the Kurdistan Regional Government are entirely in accordance with the 2007 Oil and Gas Law.

On 5 June 2022, the Erbil Court of Investigation ruled that the lawsuits filed in the Al Karkh commercial court against the IOCs must be brought to the Erbil Court to be examined as evidence in this criminal complaint. The Erbil Court also ruled that any lawsuits in the Al Karkh court must be delayed for this purpose, and that named criminal defendants, including the Baghdad Minister of Oil, must attend the criminal hearing in Erbil on 22 June 2022. Iraqi law (Article 26 of Criminal Procedural Law No. 23 of the year 1979) requires that civil proceedings cannot take place while a related criminal investigation is underway. In addition, Article 38 of Civil Procedural Law No. 83 of the year 1969 states that any civil proceeding against the IOCs must take place in the Kurdistan Region, where the IOCs are registered and operate.

Furthermore, on 5 June 2022 the Minister of Natural Resources of the Kurdistan Regional Government filed a civil suit against the Baghdad Minister of Oil. In the view of the Kurdistan Regional Government, the Minister is liable under applicable civil law provisions for sending emails and letters with the intention of intimidating the IOCs and interfering with the contractual rights of the IOCs and the Kurdistan Regional Government.

(Source: KRG Ministry of Natural Resources)

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KRG Judicial Council disputes Supreme Court ruling over Oil

By John Lee.

The Judicial Council of Kurdistan Region of Iraq has issued a statement saying that the provisions of its oil law (Law No. 22, 2007) do not violate the Iraqi Constitution and therefore should be recognized as "standing laws".

The statement follows months of dispute between Baghdad and Erbil regarding control of the energy resources in Iraqi Kurdistan, with Iraq's Federal Supreme Court ruling in February that sales of oil and gas by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), independently of the central government in Baghdad, were unconstitutional.

Full statement from KRG:

"The Kurdistan Regional Government's tenure on the issue of oil and gas exploration on its territory is in accordance with the 2005 Iraqi Constitution. The provisions of Law No. 22, 2007, issued by the Kurdistan Regional Parliament, do not violate the Iraqi Constitution and therefore should be recognized as standing laws.

"The oil and gas sector do not fall under the exclusive purview of the Federal Government of Iraq as stated in Article 110 of the Iraqi Constitution, underpinned by Article 112 of the Iraqi Constitution which states the Federal Government is to manage oil and gas exploration of discovered fields, in conjunction with regional governments and oil-producing provinces. Of that, revenues are supposed to be distributed equally among the population of Iraq.

"Article 112 refers to existing oil wells and fields prior to the ratification of the Constitution in 2005. As such, oil fields discovered in the Kurdistan Region since 2005 fall under the jurisdiction of the Kurdistan Region and the Kurdistan Regional Government. Accordingly, the texts of the Kurdistan Regional Government's Oil and Gas Law No. 22, 2007, remain in line with the provisions of the Iraqi Constitution.

"Article 92(2) of the Constitution of Iraq requires that the Iraqi Council of Representatives pass a law to establish an Iraqi Federal Supreme Court. No such law has to date been enacted. Iraq, therefore, does not have a constitutionally established Federal Supreme Court. As such, the court that issued the 15 February 2022 opinion purporting to invalidate the Oil and Gas Law (No.22 of 2007) lacks the constitutional authority to do so and, consequentially, the Oil and Gas Law remains in full force as per the Iraqi Constitution."

Click here to view document from Judicial Council.

(Source: KRG)

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KRG Minister of Natural Resources Resigns

From Rudaw. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

KRG Minister of Natural Resources resigns

The office of the Kurdistan Region Prime Minister announced on Thursday that Minister of Natural Resources, Kamal Atroshi (pictured), has resigned from his post over health issues, at a time of high tension between Erbil and Baghdad over the semi-autonomous Region's oil and gas laws.

Click here to read the full article.

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New Primary Health Care Centre opens in Kawergosk

Opening of new primary health care centre in Kawergosk to support the local and refugee communities

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the General Directorate of Health (DoH) of the Kurdistan Regional Government inaugurated the new Primary Health Care Centre (PHCC) in Kawergosk sub-district in Erbil governorate, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

The new Kawergosk Public PHCC will provide primary health care services to over 20,000 people from the Syrian refugee and Iraqi displaced communities living in Kawergosk town and surrounding areas. As a result, UNHCR is contributing to give better access to quality health services to all without discrimination. The newly-established health care centre has the capacity to take 150 to 200 consultations per day

The construction of the PHCC was made possible through a generous contribution from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), one of the largest professional services networks in the world. The land for the project was generously provided by the municipality of Kawergosk, and the Directorate of Health will be managing the PHCC and providing the necessary staff, medical equipment, and medicines.

Mr. Hussain Kalari, the Director General of Joint Crisis Coordination Centre, Ms. Nicole Epting, Deputy Representative of UNHCR in Iraq, Ms Kwestan Ahmed, the Mayor of Khabat district, Mr. Suhaib Asad, Tax Partner at PwC, and Jaivir Singh, Leader of the Global Office for Humanitarian Affairs at PwC, cut the ribbon to announce the opening of the new health centre. The PHCC provides comprehensive primary health care services, including consultations, provision of medicines, laboratory services, emergency referrals, immunization and growth monitoring, reproductive health services and dental care.

"We are grateful for the support and hospitality that the local communities in Kawergosk town have extended to the refugee communities in the nearby Kawergosk camp. In return, we are pleased to now support the national health services for the benefit of all, refugees and Kawergosk local communities alike." said Nicole Epting.

Jaivir Singh "At PwC, we are committed to supporting and empowering those most in need in a sustained manner. The newly inaugurated primary health centre at Kawergosk will significantly improve the quality of care and services provided to the surrounding communities, making a positive contribution to their lives. I extend my thanks to our partner UNHCR Iraq and the General Directorate of Health (DoH) of the Kurdistan Regional Government for their efforts, as well as our teams at PwC for bringing our values to life."

UNHCR extends its sincere gratitude to the people and Government of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, PricewaterhouseCoopers and all the stakeholders who participated in making this project a success.

(Source: UN)

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KRG Denies seizing control of Oil Fields

By John Lee.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has denied seizing the Bai Hassan and Dawd Gurg oil fields in Kirkuk from the Iraqi federal government's Ministry of Oil.

On Saturday, the North Oil Company (NOC), which is owned by the Iraqi National Oil Company (INOC), claimed that the KRG took over the fields in what it said was a contravention of Iraqi law.

The KRG has issued a statement saying the claims are, "completely untrue and are aimed at sowing discord."

Bai Hassan was originally controlled by the Ministry of Oil (Baghdad), but seized by KRG forces in July 2014. It was subsequently returned to Baghdad (NOC) control in 2017.

(Sources: NOC, KRG)

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