Posted on 27 August 2013.
The first group students have completed their studies in the training center of LUKOIL Overseas Mid-East Ltd., LUKOIL’s operating company for West Qurna-2 project, in Basra province.
170 Iraqi nationals who have completed a 1.5 year training program were immediately assigned to different facilities of West Qurna-2 field depending on their obtained qualifications, including well production, treatment of oil and gas, instrumentation and control, electrical and mechanical engineering. The second group of 160 students will complete their studies in May 2014. In addition, preparations are ongoing to host the third group of 180 students who will begin their studies in January 2014.
The center opened its doors for students in December last year. The training program was provided by SPIE Oil & Gas Services, one of the global leaders in the area of training technical personnel for large oil and gas projects. The program consists of several competency-oriented modules and covers necessary applied technical disciplines, HSE, leadership development courses and on-the-job training.
In addition to classrooms, the center hosts specialized computer-equipped training laboratories for English language and special disciplines, a library, technical support office, training workshops, administrative building, staff room, canteen, first-aid post and a recreational area. The center can simultaneously host up to 350 students.
Posted in Education & Training, Oil & Gas
Posted on 22 August 2013.
Qatar Airways launched flights on Wednesday to its fifth destination in the Republic of Iraq, Sulaymaniyah, increasing the airline’s frequency across Iraq from 16 to 20 flights each week.
The new services, which will operate four-times-a-week non-stop from the airline’s Doha hub, brings the carrier’s global network to 129 destinations worldwide.
The Doha – Sulaymaniyah route is being operated by a state-of-the-art Airbus A320 featuring 144 seats in a two-class configuration of 12 seats in Business Class and 132 seats in Economy.
Selected aircraft feature seatback TV screens, providing passengers with the next generation interactive on board entertainment system, featuring a choice of more than 800 audio and video on-demand options, together with an SMS text messaging service from each seat.
The launch marks the rapid expansion by Qatar Airways in Iraq since the middle of 2012 when it began flights to Erbil, followed by the capital Baghdad, Najaf and Basra. Sulaymaniyah also marks the carrier’s fifth new Middle Eastern destination launched this year after Basra, Najaf, Gassim in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Salalah in Oman.
The arrival of Qatar Airways’ flight QR438 was welcomed with a water salute at Sulaymaniyah International Airport and a warm reception presided by local officials. Fathi Al Shehab, Qatar Airways Senior Vice President GCC, Levant, Iran and Indian Subcontinent, led an official delegation on the flight from Doha and was welcomed at the airport by Director General Sulaymaniyah International Airport Eng.Tahir Qadir.
Posted in Transportation
Posted on 22 August 2013.
By Tom Walker, Director, Assaye Risk
The tempo of violence this week off dropped considerably fewer high impact attacks and shootings taking place. There has however remained a daily churn of low level shootings and assassinations that remains commonplace in everyday Iraq. The main interest points from the reporting period have in fact come from transnational influences and have predominantly affected the northern regions of the country.
Of the few bombings that took place this week the most prominent were a number of attacks in Baghdad which killed 33 people in the commercial districts and an attack on the Port of Umm Qasr, in what many commentators are viewing as a widening out of insurgent MO as groups seek to also further target both the political and economic frameworks.
Insurgents drove a truck bomb into the Umm Qasr facility, which exploded at Iraq’s main commodities exporting terminal near the oil-exporting southern city of Basra, wounding four people on Saturday, but officials said shipping traffic at the Umm Qasr docks was not affected. The blast damaged an out-of-service Iraqi ship anchored there and wounded four porters in what has been described as a serious breach of the facility.
The port, near Iraq’s border with Kuwait, sits at the top of the strategic Gulf waterway and does not export oil but handles agricultural commodity shipments and heavy equipment used in the energy industry. Whilst it is not a key hub for the export of oil it remains a key piece of infrastructure that will play an increasingly more important role for the economy as it grows into a key hub and free trade zone, the plans for which are in place and in the process of being implemented.
In another attack on key infrastructure two bomb attacks halted the flow of crude oil through a pipeline running from Iraq’s Kirkuk oil fields to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan in Turkey, causing severe damage, two Iraqi oil officials said on Wednesday. This was the third such type attack in the past 10 days. One bomb attack took place at around 0100 local time on Wednesday near Hadhar in Nineveh Province, 80 km south of Mosul and another section of the line was also attacked near Fatha, between Kirkuk and the northern city of Baiji, the officials said.
Posted in Politics, Security, Weekly Security Update
Posted on 21 August 2013.
By John Lee.
UK-based bank Standard Chartered is counting on the assistance of the British government to help it to open branches in Iraq by the end of the year, according to a report from The National.
The newspaper says the company plans to open three branches in the next eighteen months, to tap into the business generated from reconstruction.
US banks including Citibank and JPMorgan Chase have both recently announced investments in the country, although HSBC announced plans to sell its local subsidiary, Dar Es Salaam Investment Bank (DES).
“We are planning to open three branches in Iraq, Baghdad, Erbil during the fourth quarter of 2013 and then Basra during 2014, subject to regulatory approvals,” a spokesman for Standard Chartered said.
“The bank has already submitted its branch licence application to the regulators in Iraq. Our main aim is to meet the increasing banking needs of our global network clients in Iraq, notably in the power, oil, telecoms and infrastructure sectors.”
It has run a representative office in Erbil since 2006 but is looking to expand its presence and hire “significant numbers” of local Iraqis.
The British embassy is said to be taking an active role in assisting the bank, by facilitating negotiations with the Baghdad and Erbil.
US’s Citibank established a representative office in Baghdad this year, while JPMorgan has deepened ties with the Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI).
(Source: The National)
Posted in Banking & Finance
Posted on 20 August 2013.
By John Lee.
Iraq generated 6.9 percent more revenue from crude sales in July, compared with the previous month, according to the Oil Ministry.
Bloomberg reports that it earned $7.27 billion from the export of 2.32 million bpd of crude in July, versus $6.8 billion from 2.33 million bpd in June.
66.4 million barrels were exported from Basra and 5.6 million barrels from Kirkuk at an average price of $101 a barrel, up from $97.41 in June.
The government reportedly deployed an additional 2,500 soldiers to protect the pipeline running from Kirkuk to the Turkish port of Ceyhan; that link has been attacked 38 times this year, compared with six times in 2012.
Posted in Oil & Gas
Posted on 20 August 2013.
Vulnerable groups in southern Iraq will soon be able to access free legal services directly from the Basrah Justice Palace.
“By establishing a legal help desk directly inside the Basrah Justice Palace, we are minimising the time and money spent by vulnerable groups to seek legal assistance,” said Rini Reza, chief of the UN Development Programme’s democratic governance unit in Iraq.
“People who are poor, survivors of gender-based violence, persons living with disabilities, the elderly, detainees, and the internally displaced are often burdened when they seek legal assistance. By placing the desk in the heart of the courthouse, we are making such assistance an integral part of the court system.”
Despite progress in recent years, many Iraqis continue to face challenges in accessing their country’s justice system. Vulnerable groups are often disproportionately affected as they struggle to access legal assistance.
The legal help desk is operated as a part of a broader project for the provision of legal assistance services in Basrah. Judge Jasim Mohamed Al-Musawi, spokesperson at the Federal Appeals Court in Basrah said, “the legal help desk provides consultations to people in need, and supports legal awareness raising campaigns for lasting solutions,” adding that “some cases will even be provided with free legal representation.”
The project will enhance access to justice and promote accessibility of the courts among vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, while putting the needs of the most vulnerable at the heart of the court system.
UNDP has partnered with the Iraqi High Judicial Council, the Federal Appeals Court in Basrah, and Bustan Association to inaugurate the legal help desk office within the Basrah Justice Palace.
Posted in Politics
Posted on 18 August 2013.
By Ali Mamouri for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
The Iraqi elite see the issue of Iraq’s Jews in two ways: Nostalgia about a beautiful past, and a continuing tragedy of forced displacement which is not over yet. Although the expulsion of the Jews from Iraq was a painful tragedy of murder, persecution, theft and civil rights violations, both sides still long to see the Jews return to Iraq, something that is nearly impossible. The Jews’ exit from Iraq was a key turning point in the country’s history. It significantly changed Iraq’s composition and societal structure.
The history of the Jews in Iraq goes back more than 2,500 years. Back then, the Jews were oppressed by Assyrian King Sennacherib and Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. After the Persian King Cyrus freed the Jews in 539 BCE, most did not return to Jerusalem because they had grown accustomed to living in the Diaspora, in countries which had become their own for 25 centuries throughout Kurdistan, Baghdad, Basra, Hillah and even the holy Shiite city of Najaf. The Jews of Iraq left a significant impact on Mesopotamian civilization in general and on Jewish history in particular. The Old Testament and Jewish law were rewritten by Ezra and other Babylonian Jewish scholars.
The Jews coexisted in Iraq for thousands of years without conflict with other Iraqi constituencies. So the Jewish displacement in the middle of the 20th century was a shock to them and to Iraqis in general, because it happened under complex circumstances in which the pan-Arab and Zionist currents collided. Nazi ideology also affected the Iraqi arena during World War II.
The harassment of the Jews was accompanied by a series of inhumane acts that included the killing of hundreds, the injuring of thousands, the destruction of many Jewish homes and much of their property and forced displacement from Iraq through a series of laws and legal procedures that stripped them of their Iraqi nationality and confiscated their money throughout the second half of the 20th century, until almost all were gone.
Posted in Politics, Security
Posted on 14 August 2013.
By Harith Hasan for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Last month, demonstrators in the southern Iraqi cities of Nassiriya and Basra organized nightly rallies to protest the government’s failure to provide enough electricity for households during the notoriously hot summer.
With temperatures exceeding 113 degrees Fahrenheit during July and August, most households get less than 12 hours a day of electric power. The Iraqi government spent $28 billion to reform electricity services, which became one of the most critical problems in the country since the second Gulf War in 1991.
The failure to handle this problem is another cause for the increasing disillusionment with the government. Responding to the popular rage, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said in a TV interview that he was manipulated by the minister of electricity and his staff, who provided him with incorrect information about their system’s capacity. Although the minister of electricity position has been rotated among five people since 2006, none of them managed to make tangible improvements.
But this did not prevent political parties from competing to obtain this position, a contest driven less by a “commitment” to social welfare and more by the fact the ministry is contract-rich. During a TV interview, Khalaf al-Ileyan, whose party was “awarded” this ministry according to a 2006 power-sharing agreement, said that he was offered a $2 million “down payment” and a monthly $1 million if he accepted a nomination for this position.
This confession might be shocking, but in fact it reflects habitual relations within Iraqi elite. “Buying” a ministry is nothing new in Iraq. The ritual of power-sharing has become all about finding ways to distribute the growing oil revenues among political parties and transforming state institutions into fiefdoms of competing groups.
Initially, the power-sharing formula was presented as a method to create an inclusive system of government that departs from the legacy of exclusionary politics. In practice, power-sharing has become a power apportionment, what Iraqis call: Muhasesa. This is partly because it emphasized ethnic and sectarian categories in determining political weights, which turned institutions into instruments of political conflicts rather than being frameworks to solve them.
Posted in Industry & Trade, Politics