GKP Shares Rise on Corporate Update

By John Lee.

Shares in Gulf Keystone Petroleum (GKP) ended the day up more than 6 percent on Friday, as the Kurdistan-focused oil producer gave an operational and corporate update:

Jon Harris (pictured), Gulf Keystone's Chief Executive Officer, said:

"We continue to safely navigate a challenging operating environment due to COVID-19, with gross average year-to-date production of c.43,600 bopd, up almost 20% from 2020 annual average gross production. Today, we are pleased to announce that we have restarted work to complete SH-13, marking the resumption of drilling activities ahead of schedule.

"As a result, we now expect to increase gross production towards 55,000 bopd in Q4 2021 and to be at the upper end of 2021 guidance (40,000-44,000 bopd) as we continue to develop and realise the value of the Shaikan Field's substantial reserves and resources for the benefit of all stakeholders."

 55,000 bopd investment programme

  •  Successful restart of drilling activities, with commencement of SH-13 completion ahead of the previously announced schedule of Q3 2021.
  • After SH-13, SH-I will be drilled and electric submersible pumps will be installed in two existing wells.
  • Gross production is now expected to increase towards 55,000 bopd in Q4 2021, versus previous guidance of Q1 2022.

Operational

  • Continued strong safety performance, with no Lost Time Incident ("LTI") recorded for over 530 days.
  • Continuing to effectively manage the impact of COVID-19 on production operations and the resumption of drilling activities despite continued challenges on the ground.  
  • Gross average production from the field in 2021 to date of c.43,600 bopd, in line with 2021 guidance.

Financial

  • $100.8 million ($78.9 million net to GKP) received from the Kurdistan Regional Government in 2021 to date for payments of crude oil sales and recovery of outstanding arrears. 
  • As previously announced, proposing a $25 million annual dividend and $25 million special dividend, both for approval at next week's Annual General Meeting as we continue to balance investment in growth and returns to shareholders.
  • Retain a robust balance sheet, with a cash balance of $195 million as at 10 June 2021.

Outlook 

  • Expect 2021 average gross production guidance to be towards the upper end of the 40,000 to 44,000 bopd guidance range following early resumption of drilling activities.
  • 2021 guidance of $55-$65 million net capex and $2.5 to $2.9/bbl gross unit Opex remains unchanged.
  • Continuing to progress the preparation of the Field Development Plan, including the Gas Management Plan, through engagement with the Ministry of Natural Resources and other stakeholders; we will provide updates as this work progresses.

(Sources: GKP, Google)

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Addressing the Needs of Iraq’s Most Vulnerable

Addressing needs of Iraq's most vulnerable critical for inclusive and sustainable recovery from COVID-19, new UNDP reports say

Recovery strategies targeting Iraq's vulnerable populations - including women, youth and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) -  must be prioritized to ensure inclusive and sustainable recovery from COVID-19 in Iraq, according to two new complementary reports released today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Iraq in collaboration with the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Both reports emanate from a study that explores the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on socio-economic status and livelihoods at the household level, with a focus on its impact on vulnerable groups such as women, youth, children, persons with disabilities, and displaced communities. It compares urban and rural settings and considers impacts in both Federal Iraq and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Original data collected and presented in the first report, Findings of the Assessment of COVID-19's Socioeconomic Impact on Iraq's Vulnerable Populations forms the basis for the subsequent policy report: Impact of COVID-19 on Iraq's Vulnerable Populations. The latter examines policy implications of the data findings and argues that building an inclusive path forward will require establishing sustainable systems and structures, listening and responding to the voices of the vulnerable, and laying out realistic goals to enable attainment of the 2030 Agenda.

Key findings include:

  • Income losses were widespread, with differences between Federal Iraq and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, displaced vs non-displaced populations, and women and men employees.
  • Daily workers were most affected by the economic downturn
  • COVID-19 led to high food costs and the need for coping strategies
  • While community insecurity and gender-based violence increased, community level tensions were low.
  • Delayed income and loss of employment opportunities impacted households
  • Women and female-headed households reported greater impacts in some areas, such as a reduction in household income.

The reports are the sixth and seventh papers in a series released by UNDP on the impact of COVID-19 in Iraq.

"COVID-19 has, and will continue to have, long-term consequences for vulnerable Iraqis in accessing sustainable livelihoods, food security, health and education - particularly women, youth, the elderly, people living with disabilities and the displaced," says Resident Representative of UNDP Iraq, Zena Ali Ahmad.

"As the report clearly suggests, without sufficient attention to these vulnerable communities, Iraq may not achieve long-term, equitable sustainable development and recovery, and risks undoing the progress made towards achieving Agenda 2030. This could further undermine the social contract between the State and its citizens at a time where this is of critical importance. We urge the Government of Iraq, Kurdistan Regional Government, local actors and the international community to consider the policy recommendations outlined in the report and band together and tackle this issue. As always, UNDP Iraq stands ready to support these efforts to improve the lives of all Iraqis," adds Ms Ali Ahmad.

UNDP Iraq is grateful to UN-Habitat and IOM for its partnership and important contributions to Findings of the Assessment of COVID-19's Socioeconomic Impact on Iraq's Vulnerable Population and Impact of COVID-19 on Iraq's Vulnerable Populations.

Previously released papers in UNDP's socioeconomic impact assessment series:

Impact of COVID-19 and the Oil Crisis on Iraq's Fragility

Impact of COVID-19 on the Iraqi Economy

Impact of COVID-19 on Social Cohesion in Iraq

Impact of COVID-19 on Social Protection in Iraq

Impact of COVID-19 on Environmental Sustainability in Iraq

(Source: UN)

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KRG to rely 100% on Natural Gas for Electricity

Ten electricity plants were provided with transformers at a ceremony attended by Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani in Koya town on Thursday.

The Deputy Prime Minister commended the Koya transformer project and addressed developments in the electricity sector, including the Kurdistan Regional Government's decision to go all in on natural gas.

"The power generation costs are still high," said Deputy Prime Minister Talabani, "and to solve this, we are planning to increase the dependency on natural gas to 100 percent as a source of fossil fuel in power generation."

Also in attendance at the Koya ceremony was Minister of Electricity Kamal Mohammed Salih, who provided more information on the 2.728 billion dinar (or roughly 1.8 million USD) transformer project.

Minister Salih hailed the cabinet's achievements in power generation and distribution, and stated that more than 450 projects have been initiated with a total worth of 60 billion dinars.

KRG is planning to open three more power plants in the Kurdistan Region by the end of this year: a steam power plant in Khabat District, a gas power plant in the Garmian region, and a 37-megawatt plant in Deraluk.

The Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani also talked about his latest visit to Baghdad with the KRG delegation to discuss the region's share of the budget.

He noted that one of the topics of discussion was cooperative power generation between the federal and regional governments, a step that would drastically increase Iraq's supply of electricity.

(Source: KRG)

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Iraqi Tankers Re-Registered in Umm Qasr

By John Lee.

Two oil tankers owned by the State Company for Maritime Transport (SCMT) have been transferred from Jordanian registration to registration in the Iraqi port of Basra, following the lifting of sanctions.

Iraqi Transport Minister, Captain Nasser Hussain Bandar Al-Shibli [Captain Nasser Hussein Bandar Al-Shibli], raised the Iraqi flags on the vessels, the Al-Asma'i and the Al-Qurna, at a ceremony at the port of Umm Qasr on Sunday.

(Source: SCMT)

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Global Solidarity Needed for Iraq’s Vulnerable Children

From Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra). Re-published with permission by Iraq Business News.

In this conversation with Liz McRae, Hussein Al-alak hears about the efforts which the Iraqi Children Foundation have been undertaking, during the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. Liz McRae is the Executive Director of the Iraqi Children Foundation.

Can you tell us about the Iraqi Children Foundation and why it was founded?

The Iraqi Children Foundation (ICF) intervenes in the lives of orphans and street children who are vulnerable to abuse, neglect, and exploitation by criminals, traffickers and extremists. The organization was set up ten years ago by Americans who saw the need to help rebuild Iraq after so many years of conflict. More than 800,000 children were orphaned as a result of the Iraq War, and the ISIS occupation displaced another 1.3 million.

Our vision is that all children in Iraq have a voice, and are empowered to reach their full potential. All our programs have this goal in mind. We help vulnerable children through programs like "The Hope Buses"; we convert used city buses into colorful, child friendly classrooms. Each bus has two teachers and a social worker, and serves around 50 children with tutoring, nutrition, health care, social services, practical life lessons, community, and fun.

Another program is called "The Street Lawyers"; a team of lawyers who provide legal protection for children who are targeted by criminals and traffickers, abused by employers, or are facing other risks. They also assist children to get their papers so that they can go to school.

The ICF supports children who are vulnerable. Can you describe some of these vulnerabilities?

There are many vulnerable children in Iraq. In particular, we work with children who are orphaned (meaning, they have lost one or both parents), and children who are working to support their families.

Many children in Iraq are also vulnerable due to displacement caused by conflict. These children are vulnerable to abuse and can be targeted by criminals and extremists. More recently, COVID-19 adds an extra challenge for children and families, as it has done for people all over the world.

The ICF also supports children who are at risk of exploitation. As Iraq experiences many challenges, how does exploitation manifest itself?

For families experiencing poverty, displacement, or a lack of access to job opportunities, the possibility of exploitation is increased. Many children in Iraq have to work to support their families, especially when one or both parents have died. These children can be exploited by employers, and are easy targets for criminals and extremist organizations.

The risk of exploitation is also heightened by the fact that children working are often not attending school on a regular basis. Without access to education, it becomes harder to stay away from potentially exploitative situations.

Many countries have been under lockdown due to the Covid Pandemic, what have the ICF been doing during this time?

Many children in Iraq face incredible hardship every single day, often without access to proper nutrition, education, healthcare, and safety. COVID-19 adds new challenges for these children, and also exacerbates the existing issues.For children living in poor communities, social distancing is difficult (if not impossible) due to large numbers of people living in close confines, and there may be little or no access to hygiene supplies or PPE, food, work, school, and community members. The bottom line is: COVID-19 makes vulnerable children more vulnerable.

During this critical time, we are doing our best to help keep children as safe and healthy as possible. Teams have been distributing food and hygiene supplies to vulnerable children and families in multiple cities, and our Hope Bus staff have paid home visits to children from the Hope Buses to show them how to use PPE and practice good hygiene so that they can stay safe during COVID-19.

We continue to work with the teams on the ground in Iraq, who are doing their best to work safely and always with the best interests of the children in mind.

How can people within the international community, support the Iraqi Children Foundation and their work in Iraq? 

You can do a lot from home; you are not powerless to help the vulnerable children in Iraq. Here are some things you can do to help:

Follow and spread the word - follow us on social media to learn more about the challenges Iraqi Children are facing, to hear ICF news and progress, and share to spread the word so we can make a larger impact (Facebook/LinkedIn: Iraqi Children Foundation, Instagram/Twitter: @IraqiChildren)

Give what you can - every dollar matters, especially now. Donate any amount at our Global Giving page to help. Also, new monthly donors get a 100% match on their first month of giving.

Fundraise - help us fundraise; start your own mini-campaign using Global Giving or Facebook - it only takes 5 minutes! Email liz@iraqichildren.org to find out more, and we can help you set it up.

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Petrel Resources’ Focus will be Iraq

By John Lee.

In its preliminary results for the year ended 31st December 2020, Petrel Resources made the following statement on its interests in Iraq:

"Meanwhile Petrel continues to push its interest in Iraq and Ghana. For the foreseeable future oil will play a major part in world economic development.

"Iraq has some of the best oil deposits in the world. In a stable era Iraqi oil production would be 2 or 3 times the current under 4 million barrels a day.

"For more than 20 years Petrel has been in Iraq. Activities have languished in year past but the addition of an Iraqi director, Riadh Mahomud Hameed and the contact of French investors led to a re-opening of contacts.

"It has been, and remains a difficult and dangerous place to explore. Led by Riadh we are putting exploration proposals to the authorities. We are particularly keen to revisit the Merjan field where we earlier produced development proposals ...

"Our focus in the immediate future will be Iraq"

(Source: Petrel Resources)

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HRW: Inadequate Plans for Camp Closures

From Human Rights Watch (HRW). Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Inadequate Plans for Camp Closures

Recent camp closures have stripped thousands of displaced people of essential services during the Covid-19 pandemic, with inadequate government plans for their return home, Human Rights Watch said on Thursday.

Click here to read the full article.

(Source: HRW)

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Iraqi Cabinet Awards Energy Contracts

By John Lee.

At its regular meeting on Tuesday, the Iraqi Cabinet agreed to send an invitation, "in a single bid manner", to the French company Total to invest in a project to generate 1,000 megawatts of solar electric power.

The project was originally agreed in March as part of a larger engagement with the French energy company, which last week announced that it would rebrand itself as TotalEnergies.

The cabinet also approved a request from the Ministry of Electricity to award a contract "in a single bidding manner" to the Chinese company PowerChina (Power Construction Corporation of China).

(Source: Govt of Iraq)

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Increasing Oil Production at West Qurna 2

By John Lee.

Iraq's Oil Minister, Ihssan Abdul-Jabbar Ismail, has announced the start of experimental operations at the Yamamah reservoir in the West Qurna 2 oil field, with the aim of increasing output from the reservoir from 10,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 350,000 bpd.

When fully implemented, the development would bring total production at the field to 800,000 bpd.

The Minister praised the work of Russian company Lukoil, which is developing the field.

(Source: Ministry of Oil)

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