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Ride-Hailing Service is Launched in Baghdad

By John Lee.

The ride-hailing service Careem has reportedly launched its services in Baghdad.

According to Saudi Gazette, the Dubai-based company plans to expand to other cities across Iraq in the near future.

(Sources: Saudi Gazette, Arabian Business)

Posted in Iraq Industry & Trade News, Iraq Transportation News 0 Comments

Kuwait Gas-Supply Pact — Iraq “has Much to Gain”

By Salam Zidane for Al Monitor. Any views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

Iraq has much to gain from gas-supply pact with Kuwait

Kuwait will begin importing natural gas from neighboring Iraq this year, a development welcomed in Baghdad as it could improve Iraq’s relations with the Gulf countries — relations that ruptured when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.

Most of Iraq’s gas is associated petroleum gas, also known as flare gas. Associated petroleum gas is a byproduct of oil production, as opposed to natural gas that comes directly from gas reservoirs in the ground.

The Iraqi Ministry of Oil has decided to export associated petroleum gas from international oil companies operating in southern Iraq to Kuwait via a gas pipeline near Basra. Kuwait would then turn it into dry gas, condensates and liquid gas, among other types. According to the Ministry of Oil, Iraq flares 1.5 billion cubic feet of gas daily.

Ministry spokesman Assem Jihad told Al-Monitor, “Iraq will export to Kuwait the associated gas, part of which is flared on a daily basis. Processing natural gas is a complex and expensive industrial process that requires building plants through local and foreign companies.”

Jihad said, “Iraq is set to supply Kuwait with 50 million cubic feet of gas daily, which will gradually increase to 200 million cubic feet [depending on] international prices. The gas will be exported through the three-decade-old pipeline linking the two countries. The pipeline, however, needs maintenance. Iraq will take care of maintenance over the 30 kilometers [19 miles] of pipeline stretching within its territory, while Kuwait will handle its part of the pipeline.”

Iraq has lost billions of dollars annually as a result of wasteful gas flaring and its importation of diesel fuel for electricity. That’s not to mention the low levels of energy efficiency because many Iraqi power stations run on dry gas, which is not produced locally.

What has compounded the problem is the reluctance of some oil companies to exploit associated gas despite the increase in Iraq’s crude oil production from an average of about 1 million barrels per day in 2003 to roughly 4.3 million per day in December, which increased gas flaring from 700 million cubic feet to 1.5 billion cubic feet daily.

Kuwait will lay the pipeline to the neighboring Rumaila oil field, the largest in the world, under the supervision of the BP oil company. The agreement is likely to be implemented soon, since Kuwait has a demand for natural gas that exceeds its supply by an estimated 500 million cubic feet daily. Kuwait has been unable to curb this deficit in part because of tension among Gulf countries that has prevented Qatari gas from flowing into Kuwait via Saudi Arabia; Reuters reports that much of the shortfall is being covered by imports of liquefied natural gas.

The Iraq-Kuwait associated petroleum gas deal should help Iraq pay off the remaining reparations for the invasion of Kuwait, amounting to $4.5 billion.

Iraq’s parliamentary Oil and Gas Committee criticized the government’s energy policy for relying on the development of oil production and neglecting natural gas processing, which could put an end to the country’s electricity crisis and launch petrochemical industries. Committee member Zaher al-Abadi told Al-Monitor, “Iraq is losing billions of dollars in flaring gas, while the Ministry of Oil is standing idly by.”

Oil expert Hamza al-Jawahiri, who is knowledgeable about the agreements between international oil companies and the Ministry of Oil, and between the ministry and various countries, said Kuwait will process the natural gas in Iraq and then transport it to its cities.

“As per the agreement, Kuwait will bear the expenses of building plants, processing and piping the gas,” he said. The gas will be processed in Iraq by separating impurities and non-methane hydrocarbons and fluids to produce dry natural gas.

Jawahiri added that Kuwait signed an agreement months ago with Basrah Gas Company, which is part of the latest gas export agreement, noting that other sources of gas will include rich oil and gas fields in southern Iraq. Basrah Gas is a consortium of three businesses including the majority shareholder South Gas Co., Shell and Mitsubishi. The consortium exploits gas from three oil fields.

Shaalan al-Daraji, Basrah Gas chief information officer, told Al-Monitor the company’s plan, which runs until 2021, aims to end the flaring of gas in the Zubair, Qurna 1 and Rumaila oil fields. “The company currently produces 700 million cubic feet of gas daily and has a strategic plan to stop gas flaring in oil fields,” Daraji said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi expressed great support for the Kuwait agreement, which could end Iraq’s long-standing estrangement with the Gulf countries, as Kuwait has asked the United Nations Security Council to lift sanctions on Iraq.

Posted in Iraq Oil & Gas News 0 Comments

Iraq in 2018 … What lies ahead?

By Padraig O’Hannelly.

The year just gone by has seen many changes in Iraq, including the successful routing of the so-called Islamic State (IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh), the holding of a controversial vote on Kurdish independence, and a long-awaited improvement in relations with Saudi Arabia.

The latter part of the year also saw a steady and welcome increase in oil prices, which, coupled with record oil export volumes, has helped to prop up the country’s finances.

As we publish our first newsletter of the new year, we’d like to say a special word of thanks to all of our contributors, including our panel of Expert Bloggers, who have given us the benefit of their wisdom and observations over the past twelve months:

We look forward to reading more from them in the coming year.

We’d also like to thank all our readers and well-wishers for making Iraq Business News the must-read publication for everyone with an interest in Iraq, and we ask you to please support our valued advertisers, who make all of this possible.

It is also important to remember two Iraq-focussed charities that are doing amazing and much-needed work in the country:

Any donations made to them will make a big difference to the lives of so many vulnerable people in Iraq.

Having welcomed a new year, many of us will have hopes and dreams for the twelve months ahead. What do you wish for Iraq in 2018, and what are your predictions for the state of the country one year from now? Whatever your connection with Iraq, we’d love to read your opinions in the comments section below.

With another challenging but potentially rewarding year to come, Iraq Business News will be with you every step of the way, wishing all of you a happy, peaceful and prosperous 2018.

Posted in Blog 4 Comments

ScreenHunter 1696

Jacobs signs MOU with Iraq Oil Company

US-based Jacobs has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Iraq Oil Company to explore mutual benefits of cooperation in the region of Basra, Iraq.

The vast majority of Iraqi oil production takes place in Basra. Iraq Oil Company is looking for business partners based in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to support economic and social development in the Basra region through investments in upstream, downstream, refining, and other sectors.

David Zelinski, Jacobs Petroleum and Chemicals Senior Vice President and General Manager Middle East, said:

Jacobs was selected as single engineering partner to sign this strategic non-binding agreement.

“We will explore possibilities to deliver our services in support of the Oil & Gas, Refining and Petrochemicals sectors in Iraq, from our Saudi Arabian office – where we have had a presence for more than 40 years – as this aligns well with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 to increase the export of services.

The signage took place during a business event attended by HH Khalid Al Faleh, Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources of Saudi Arabia and Chairman of Saudi Aramco; Jabbar al-Luaibi, Iraq Minister of Oil; Asad Al Eidani, the Governor of Basra; and Abdulaziz Al Shammary, the Saudi Ambassador in Iraq.

The governments of Iraq and Saudi Arabia work closely together to establish a clear regulation and warrantees for potential investors in terms of protection, trading and financial transactions.

(Source: Jacobs)

Posted in Iraq Oil & Gas News 0 Comments

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The Islamic State Group Lives On – in Iraq’s Deserts

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Anbar’s western desert is a hiding place for the Islamic State group, locals say. And they fear the extremists will be back as soon as an opportunity presents itself.

Last week the Iraqi government declared victory over the extremist group known as the Islamic State. But, according to locals and military personnel living in the Anbar province, that declaration was premature.

“I have seen no genuine indications that this province is rid of the Islamic State group,” says Ayad al-Nimrawi, a 43-year-old who runs a restaurant in the Kilo area, about 160 kilometres along the road between Baghdad and the Syrian-Jordanian border. “I still see commercial trucks accompanied by security details when they come along here. Even the security forces cannot travel down here alone, they require extra protection.”

“I will only feel that we have won the final victory when I see life returning to this road as it was before the Islamic State came. We used to travel here at night without any fear of armed groups but today this international road is almost completely closed. As soon as dusk falls, this road is a death trap.”

The victory celebrations were not about the complete eradication of the IS group, rather they were meant to be a signal about the end of military operations, suggests Tariq Yusef al-Asal, a police chief and one of the leaders of Anbar’s tribal militias fighting the Islamic State. “We have the right to be proud of the victories achieved by our security forces in the fighting that’s gone on over three years,” he told NIQASH. “We have sovereignty over our land again.”

However, he adds, “it would be stupid to say that Iraq is now completely clean of extremist groups like the Islamic State. There are still sleeper cells and incubators inside and outside our cities.”

“No country – not even European nations – can claim they are completely clean of Islamic State members,” he continued. “Those sleeper cells will keep the organisation alive and sustain it. These groups make good use of any security vacuum in any country to try and achieve their aims.”

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Posted in Security 0 Comments

ScreenHunter 1534

Saudi, Iraq sign 18 Major Energy Deals

By John Lee.

Saudi Arabian companies have signed 18 agreements with the Iraqi government to jointly develop several key projects in the energy sector.

The statement from the Iraqi Oil Ministry gave little detail, but quotes the Saudi Minister of Energy Khalid Al-Falih as saying that Saudi companies are keen to develop relations with Iraq, adding that several important Saudi companies will open their branches in Iraq to “achieve more bilateral cooperation and expand the size of investments in the sectors of oil, gas, industry, importing, infrastructure and [other sectors].”

According to Reuters, both petrochemical giant Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) and Saudi Arabia’s Industrialization & Energy Services Co (TAQA) are planning to open offices in Iraq.

(Sources: Iraqi Oil Ministry, Reuters)

Posted in Iraq Oil & Gas News, Politics 0 Comments

Aujan

Saudi Bottler to Open New Plant in Iraq

By John Lee.

A Saudi-based bottling company is reported to be planning to open a new factory in Iraq next year.

According to The National, Aujan Coca-Cola Beverages Company (ACCBC), a subsidiary of Aujan Group Holding, will invest up to 250 million Saudi riyals ($67 million) over the next two years, creating for more than 150 jobs.

The new plant will include manufacturing lines for juices and soft drinks, and will also supply to neighbouring markets.

(Source: The National)

Posted in Iraq Industry & Trade News Comments Off on Saudi Bottler to Open New Plant in Iraq

Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI) logo

Trade Bank of Iraq to establish Saudi branch

By John Lee.

The state-owned Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI) has reportedly received verbal approval from the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) to open a branch in Saudi Arabia next year.

Chairman Faisal Al Haimus told The National in Abu Dhabi that the bank will launch an asset management business in Abu Dhabi.

The lender is considering several options to expand its presence in the GCC region.

(Sources: The National, Reuters)

Posted in Construction & Engineering In Iraq Comments Off on Trade Bank of Iraq to establish Saudi branch

imam-hussein-mosque-karbala

Authorities Clamp Down on Sectarian Hate Speech

By Mustafa Saadoun for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

The Iraqi government, headed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, is seeking to penalize people for the hate speech prevalent in Iraqi society by arresting anyone who expresses such ideas or promotes slogans that insult former or current religious and social figures.

Each year around this time, millions of Shiite Muslims make the pilgrimage to the shrine of Imam Hussein in Karbala for the festival of Arbaeen. People observing Arbaeen sometimes raise banners and shout slogans insulting Sunni figures. In the past, these people were met with public indignation — but not legal measures.

Wahab al-Tai, the interior minister’s media adviser, told Al-Monitor in an interview, “Up until Nov. 8, the ministry had arrested 76 people who were caught promoting sectarianism. Out of the 76 arrested, 25 were in Karbala and 51 in Babil [province]. Most were Iraqis, but some foreigners were arrested as well.”

The Interior Ministry was reacting to a video that has been circulating. The video, taken in Karbala during the festival, shows a group of followers of Shiite Grand Ayatollah Sadiq Hussaini Shirazi — a group known for promoting hateful speech toward important Sunni religious figures. The video shows a young man with a loudspeaker cursing Umar ibn al-Khattab, a senior companion of the Prophet Muhammad considered sacred by Sunnis. Despite all the arrests, that man is still on the loose.

Only two days after appearing in the first video, the same man appeared in another video saying that he was only “expressing his opinion.”

The ministry’s measures against promoters of sectarianism received both political and public support. Sayyid Ahmad al-Safi, the representative of Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani in Najaf, applauded the move in his Friday sermon in Karbala on Nov. 10.

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Dust Storms sweep across Iraq as Govt Solutions Falter

By Wassim Bassem for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

On Nov. 3, NASA published clear images taken by its satellites of the severe dust storm that hit Iraq recently. The climate changes sweeping Iraq are causing human casualties and economic damages. Hundreds of cases of suffocation were recorded.

The Ministry of Health announced Oct. 30 that there were more than 4,200 cases of suffocation in most governorates, including 528 in Karbala. During the dust storm, the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority canceled its flights, and Iranian flights to Baghdad and Najaf airports were also canceled. Ninevah province recorded 1,108 cases of suffocation in the camps for internally displaced persons.

The storms also affected the course of the battles between the Iraqi forces and the Islamic State (IS). On Oct. 31, the Iraqi forces were forced to postpone the campaign aimed to retrieve the city of Qaim, west of Anbar, from IS because of the lack of visibility caused by the dust storms.

While dust storms are occurring in neighboring countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and even Iran, “Iraq is one of the most affected countries by the storm, at the level of its environment, individuals’ health and economy,” said Amer Habib of the Technical College Musayyib in Babil province and the director of a project on organic fertilizers in Babil.

“This is due to the fact that Iraq is a barren land where vegetation is scarce. Human activities have swept away orchards and agricultural lands, which also led to the decrease of the rivers’ water levels and the lack of rainfall, which resulted in the drying up of huge areas of agricultural spaces.”

In 2011, the World Meteorological Organization identified dust storms as a natural disaster. Several countries around the world have strengthened their defense strategies against this environmental threat with green belts of trees that are resistant to drought and harsh environments. The stakeholders, especially local governments in Iraq, have been following the same approach for years and have developed projects to help eliminate desertification.

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