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Italian Ambassadors Hope to Bolster Relations with Kurdistan

Italian Ambassadors Hope to Bolster Relations with Kurdistan

Italy’s ambassador to Iraq and the director general for political and security affairs at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs met President Masoud Barzani and government officials in a visit to the Kurdistan Region this week.

Italy’s Ambassador to Iraq Gerardo Carante was joined by Ambassador Sandro De Berrnadrin in a visit that is part of Italy’s efforts to foster closer diplomatic and trade relations with the Kurdistan Region and was part of Ambassador De Berrnardin’s wider visit to Iraq.

In his meeting with the delegation, President Barzani said that he was pleased to welcome the ambassadors to Kurdistan. “We are very happy to have a representation of the Italian government and people here in Kurdistan, and we hope that we will be able to see their presence here increase in the coming years as the Region continues to develop and progress.”

Ambassador De Berrnadrin expressed his pleasure at being able to visit the Region and said, “Your desire to further our relations is also our desire, and the opening of our diplomatic post here in Erbil is a testament to our commitment.”

Both sides went on to discuss the current political developments in Iraq and in the wider region as a whole, and President Barzani briefed the ambassadors about the efforts by Kurdish leaders both in Erbil and in Baghdad to bring all the political factions together in a national conference.

Ambassador De Berrnadrin was hopeful for the resolution of the contentious issues among Iraq’s political groups. He said, “We praise the role that the Region is playing, not only in Iraq, but also in the wider region. The wise approach that your government has taken on a number of issues is encouraging, and we believe that it is improving the situation.”

In a separate meeting with the Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, Minister Falah Mustafa, both sides discussed a number of sectors in which they could work more closely together, giving particular attention to expanding economic and trade relations.

“We want to promote a relationship that benefits both sides,” the Minister said. “You stand to benefit from profits, and the Region stands to benefit from your involvement in rebuilding our infrastructure. We have suffered from destruction for many years. We are now in the process of rebuilding, and we can use your continued support and involvement,” he added.

In addition to these meetings, the ambassadors met with a number of other senior KRG officials and were accompanied by Dr Simone De Santi, Head of the Erbil Consular Office of the Embassy of Italy.

(Source: KRG)

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Gulf Keystone Shares Slump on Kurdistan Worries

Gulf Keystone Shares Slump on Kurdistan Worries

More than £1 billion ($1.6 billion) was wiped off the value of Gulf Keystone Petroleum (GKP) during trading on Tuesday, as its share price fell by one third to 228.5p. Some of those losses have been recovered on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning, with the shares currently changing hands at 275p.

The falls were attrributed to Tuesday’s comments by the Iraqi government regarding ExxonMobil‘s decision, expected in the coming days, on its contracts in Kurdistan Regional Government.

GKP has been seen as a potential takeover target following Exxon Mobil’s agreement with the KRG, and some regard the sharp fall in its share price as a sign that some speculative premium is leaking away.

Sentiment was also not helped by some bearish comments in an analysts’ report from HSBC.

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Middle East Association on 10th Mission to Kurdistan

Middle East Association on 10th Mission to Kurdistan

A leading British trade association last week visited the Kurdistan Region for the 10th time, helping to cement Kurdistan’s commercial ties with the UK.

The 26-strong Middle East Association (MEA) trade mission met universities, government ministers and officials, and business organisations.

Mr David Lloyd, the mission leader and Senior Consultant to the MEA, said, “This is my eighth visit to the Kurdistan Region. Every time I come, there are new buildings, roads and projects.” He added, “I’m also very pleased that we have some leading universities on this mission, and that so many Kurds are choosing to study at UK higher education institutions.”

The delegates heard about the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) plans for its 2012 budget of 12 billion US dollars, which include water treatment, waste recycling, power generation, social housing, and continuing the KRG Masters and PhD scholarships abroad. They also saw the designs for tram systems for all three of the Kurdistan Region’s cities, although these have not yet been approved for implementation.

Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, the KRG’s Head of Foreign Relations, spoke at a business networking dinner for the MEA mission that was hosted by the Kurdistan Business Group. The Minister outlined the needs of several particularly significant sectors and discussed the importance of continued educational development and support. “We need the knowledge and expertise of the international community to help us achieve our potential,” he said, concluding: “Our needs are your opportunity.”

Mr Lloyd noted that although slow to start, UK companies are now more aware of the opportunities in Kurdistan. Over the last five months alone, the MEA has brought 100 companies to the Region, and plans to bring more for the October 2012 Erbil International Fair.

Ms Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the KRG Representative to the UK, said, “The UK now has the third highest number of registered foreign companies in the Kurdistan Region, behind Turkey and Iran. That is testament to our growing trade links and our efforts to introduce British companies to our market.”

The British companies and organisations on the mission covered two broad areas: education and training, and infrastructure and construction. They were hosted at networking events organised by the Erbil and Suleimaniah chambers of commerce, the Kurdistan Investors Union, the Kurdistan Contractors Union, and the Kurdistan Business Group. Their visit was organised by the KRG UK Representation and the Department of Foreign Relations.

(Source: KRG)

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Kurdistan Oil Shares Lower on Miran West-3 Update

Kurdistan Oil Shares Lower on Miran West-3 Update

Shares in Heritage Oil have fallen more than 10% in the past two days following its announcement that drilling at Miran West-3 in Iraqi Kurdistan in taking longer than expected.

The company owns 75% of the block, with Genel Energy owning 25%. Shares in Genel have shed 14% since Friday’s close. CEO Tony Hayward commented:

The Miran 3 well has confirmed the presence of gas in place at this location on the Miran structure – integration of the well results and the recently completed 3D seismic survey will provide a better estimate of the potential recoverable gas reserves and assist in development planning.

The full text of the Heritage announcement follows:

Heritage Oil Plc (LSE: HOIL), an independent upstream exploration and production company, provides an update on the Miran West-3 well in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (“Kurdistan”).

Highlights

  • The well is currently at a depth of 2,910 metres
  • Testing and the results of wireline logging confirm the Lower Cretaceous reservoir formation is gas bearing
  • High pressure gas was encountered requiring a change in well design and the well being sidetracked. This high pressure interval has been drilled and is now being logged
  • Drilling will continue to the Jurassic targets below 3,000 metres

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Signs of Progress for Women in Kurdistan

Signs of Progress for Women in Kurdistan

By Chris Bowers, British Consul General in Erbil. This article was originally published by Rudaw, and is re-published with permission by Iraq Business News.

Can any government reach its full potential without using its entire people? Of course not. That is why the UK worldwide considers the role of women to be so important. A society that holds back women, holds back half of its economic, social and cultural potential. That has got to be wrong. Imagine if a government told every other man that there was no need for them to be educated beyond a certain level, they were generally inferior and should content themselves with a lesser place in society. There would be outrage! So, why should any government or society give that message to the half of the population that happens to be female?

Governments that invest in the education of young girls see a big impact. As Lynne Featherstone, the UK Governments Minister responsible for promoting female rights says, “The benefits of investing in girls and women are transformational – for their own lives and for their families, communities, societies and economies. Empowering girls and women has multiplier effects for economic growth and security”.

As International Women’s Day comes round again, here in the Kurdistan Region, the government understands that. One third of the members of parliament have to be women and the parliament has recently passed some brave and ground-breaking laws to eliminate domestic violence and to make forced marriage, so-called honour crimes and female genital mutilation punishable by prison. Civil society groups are active on these issues in Kurdistan Region, too and that is good to see.

All this puts the KRG in the front rank of administrations in the wider region.

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