Petrofac Targets Iraq Oil after Asfari Quadruples Share Value

Bloomberg – 12 March

Ayman Asfari, the chief executive officer whose oil and gas engineering skills guided a fourfold increase in the value of Petrofac Plc within five years, is now preparing to tap Iraq’s energy boom.

Iraq, with estimated reserves of 115 billion barrels of oil, the world’s third-largest, is set to ramp up production as companies including BP Plc, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. spend as much as $100 billion to develop fields awarded in contracts last year. A good chunk of that will go to contractors including Petrofac and larger U.S. rivals Baker Hughes Inc. and Halliburton Co.

“He’s passionate about his business model, which is about being a low-cost provider of quality engineering;” said Barclays Capital analyst Mick Pickup, who worked with Asfari on Petrofac’s initial public offering as a consultant at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. “Iraq is the billion dollar question. Ultimately, there will be the whole infrastructure to build there. It will be big.”

“We see Iraq as a growth market,” Asfari, 51, said in an interview from the company’s London headquarters. “This is a natural place for our expansion. We’re working in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Syria, and it’s very easy for us to step out across the border.”

The largest U.K. oil and gas services company reached a record in London this week after it announced the spinoff of North Sea fields it owns into a new company. The shares may outperform peers because the company has kept costs under control and is positioned to win work in Iraq, investors and analysts said.

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