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Video: Daily Life in Erbil

From Al Jazeera. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

In Iraq, some of the heaviest fighting between ISIL fighters and Kurdish Peshmerga forces is taking place outside Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region.

But people in the city itself enjoy a high degree of comfort and security, thanks to its own Peshmerga army.

Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Adow reports from Erbil:

Posted in Industry & Trade, SecurityComments (4)

Saudi Arabia to Open Consulate in Erbil

A high ranking delegation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, headed by Mr. Abdul-Rahman al-Shahri, visited Kurdistan Region to prepare the opening of the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Erbil in a near future.

In a meeting held yesterday with the Kurdistan Region Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani, Mr. al-Shahri stated that the decision of opening the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Erbil was taken personally by His Majesty King Abdulla bin Abdul-Aziz.

He expressed his hope that it would help developing and strengthening the relations between Erbil and Riyadh in various fields, including providing assistance to those who wish to accomplish their duty of Hajj or Umrah pilgrimage.

He pointed out that opening of the Consulate in Erbil will take place shortly after the Saudi Arabian Embassy begins its mission in Baghdad, which is expected to be soon.

Prime Minister Barzani welcomed the decision of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to open an Embassy in Baghdad and a Consulate in Erbil. He said that opening the Embassy in Baghdad would help the normalisation and development of ties between Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

He added that whilst relations between Saudi Arabia and the Kurdistan Region have always been friendly, it is hoped that they would further develop in the future, helping to encourage Saudi Arabian investment in the Kurdistan Region.

The Prime Minister also reiterated that the Kurdistan Regional Government is ready to provide all the assistance and cooperation necessary for the opening of the Saudi Arabian Consulate.

(Source: KRG)

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CWC’s 4th Kurdistan-Iraq Oil and Gas Conference

Highlights from December’s London Conference.

By Robert Tollast.

According to current plans, the Kurdish region of Iraq will be able to export 1 million barrels of oil in the not too distant future–by some accounts by the end of 2015.

By 2020 as much as 10 billion cubic metres of gas will be exported from the region to Turkey under a 2013 agreement and this could rise to 20 bcm.

In the south of Iraq, this is rivalled by some ambitious expansion plans with Iraq’s South Oil Company, BP and PetroChina leading the charge at Rumaila, where they recently announced plans to double production at the super-giant field.

Meanwhile, the Shell-Petronas-Missan consortium continue plans at the vast Majnoon field. As the axis of global energy consumption shifts east, such expansion remains justified even as prices have tumbled.


But while the history of oil and gas in southern Iraq goes back decades, the Kurdish region remains in many ways an energy frontier. For example, in 2009 there were no official exports while today the Taq Taq and Tawke fields alone will bring an extra 160,000 bpd available for export and processing by the end of 2015.That impressive point was not the most important thing mentioned at the 4th Kurdistan-Iraq Oil and Gas Conference in London, a superbly well-organized event from CWC.

The three day conference provided delegates with nothing less than an immersive experience of the Iraqi energy sector and its emerging opportunities.

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Basra joins Revenue Sharing Talks

By John Lee. 

According to a 2009 revision of Iraq’s Provincial Powers Act (also known as Law 21) the province of Basra is supposed to be receiving an extra $5 dollars of oil revenue per barrel produced in the province.

If this was the case, the province could be receiving an income equivalent to that of some small countries.

To date however, this has not been the case for both political and economic reasons and currently the province receives much less than its entitlement. This is of critical importance, because the province produces most of Iraq’s oil.

This situation might be about to change. The current governor, Majid al-Nasrawi, had his position strongly contested by former PM Maliki, who opposed decentralising power from Baghdad.

Now Maliki is on the sidelines and the Ministry of Oil is headed by the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq member Abdel Adel Mehdi, of the same party of the Basra governor. Given that Maliki is now longer in the seat of power, we might expect more power to be devolved to provinces like Basra.

Abdel Mehdi hinted a new arrangement could be on the horizon, noting recently that the government were looking for “fairer ways to share revenue with the provinces” to include Basra and not just the Kurdish provinces.

Certainly, the political alignment of Basra and the Oil Ministry through ISCI, a party which pursued a strong federalist agenda in the 2009 election could see some interesting developments. If the current Baghdad-Arbil deal holds, we might expect a new deal for the southern provinces.

In the long term, such federalised arrangements could lead to greater security in Iraq as a whole, since the war torn provinces of Anbar and Ninewa also have oil and gas reserves, although not on the scale of the KRI and the south.

(Source: Various publications)




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Mobile Medical Clinics Arrive in Erbil

The World Health Organization (WHO) and World Food Programme (WFP) have collaborated to deliver eight mobile medical clinics which arrived in Erbil on Sunday.

These urgently needed clinics will be immediately deployed to parts of Iraq and Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). The vehicles, flown in from Amman, Jordan, were procured by WHO and have been purpose-built to address the health needs of displaced populations residing in places with limited access to health care services – in camps, informal settlements and urban areas across the country.

The clinics were made possible through the support of the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and are the first of their kind to be brought to Iraq to accelerate response efforts.

To mark the arrival of the mobile clinics, a ceremony set to host the Ministers of Health of both Iraq and KRI governments, a delegation from the government of Saudi Arabia, and representatives from WHO and WFP, will be held at Erbil airport on Wednesday.

“We are very pleased about the arrival of these new mobile clinics which will provide round-the-clock health services for vulnerable populations in Iraq,” said Dr Jaffar Hussein, WHO Representative for Iraq.

“Not only are mobile health clinics swift and relatively cost-efficient, they also enable health care to be provided as close as possible to affected communities. Each clinic has the capacity to support patient examinations, vaccinations for children, diagnosis and laboratory confirmation of diseases, pre- and antenatal care, the treatment of minor conditions such as skin infections, management of minor wounds, and to address dehydration,” he said.

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Video: US Refugee Aid Lands in Erbil

From AFP. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

A United Nations plane carrying aid from the US for Iraqis displaced by the conflict, arrived in the Kurdish capital Arbil on Thursday.

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Weekly Security Update, 25 November – 01 December 2014

PM Abadi’s political manoeuvres continued to lead to a number of dismissals within key ministries. On 01 December, the Prime Minister retired 24 senior Interior Ministry officials as part of government restructuring. This decision comes as central authorities uncovered an estimated 50,000 ‘ghost soldiers’ on the military payroll, prompting the government to take steps towards tackling corruption and patronage. In another development detaching Abadi from his predecessor and current VP Nouri al-Maliki, Baghdad reached a deal on oil exports with Kurdistan, potentially ending years of disputes related to trade and budget. Under the new agreement, both regions would export through Iraq’s national oil company, SOMO, while the Kurds will keep 17% of Iraq’s budget expenditure and take a seat on SOMO’s board. As Iraq continues to be confronted by the threat posed by ISIS, rising violence has forced the country to work towards resolving long-lasting disputes and choose compromise over divisions on a number of issues. After suffering major territorial losses over the previous weeks, ISIS renewed its assaults in the North, in a probable bid to force a relocation of ISF resources away from the frontlines where insurgents have been compelled to abandon their positions, particularly in Diyala. This tactic should be sustained and lead to an increased in clashes reported in Salahuddin, where militant assaults on Baiji and Balad have been witnessed, and areas in the vicinity of Kirkuk.


Clearing operations continue in Diyala, while ISIS engage Peshmerga forces in a number of locations in Nineveh, Salahuddin and Kirkuk. On 26 November, Peshmerga forces recaptured the village of Tal Ward, between Kirkuk and Hawija, which had briefly fallen to militants as ISIS multiplies attempts at distracting Iraqi and Kurdish forces from other locations. Clashes also occurred in Baiji, where insurgents are still in control of the town’s outskirts. On 30 November, ISIS launched an attack on Balad, north of Baghdad, which was repelled by a force of ISF and Shia volunteers. Fighting was also reported between Peshmerga soldiers and militants near the Mosul dam, in a possible move to delay a planned Kurdish assault on Sinjar. Assaults, such as the one witnessed in Kirkuk which led Kurdish authorities to allocate reinforcements, are likely to be aimed at destabilising the conduct of ISF clearing operations, forced to rethink their priorities and organisation. This strategy is expected to be repeated over the next weeks, ensuring that direct clashes between ISIS and Iraqi forces continue to increase.


As previously assessed, the focus of ISIS on operations in the North and Anbar continued to translate into a decrease in levels of violence in Baghdad, with no car bombs reported. The fiercest clashes reported in Anbar continued to occur in the vicinity Ramadi, where ISIS have allocated most of their resources. Fighting was witnessed west of Anbar’s capital, in Huz district, as well as in districts near Hit. As Ramadi remains the focal point of both ISIS and the Iraqi army, ISF forces reportedly made advances east of the city, while airstrikes continue to target ISIS vehicles converging on the battlefield. ISIS’s continued freedom of movement in the area, despite the sending of reinforcements and ammunition from Baghdad, continued to translate in high-impact incidents. On 30 November, a VBIED detonated in the Sajariya area of Ramadi, injuring three ISF soldiers. Meanwhile, an increase in Shia militant activity in the capital translated into a number of incidents and further demonstrated the autonomy currently enjoyed by Shia brigades. On 25 November, a group of gunmen stormed a house in Sadr City, killing three individuals. Levels of violence in the capital are expected to remain below average over the next reporting period.


Amid levels of violence in line with previous averages, threat levels are set to increase as the festival of Arbaeen approaches and pilgrims are expected to start converging in Karbala. Basra continued to witness acts of criminality, while levels of violence in Babil continued to drop. The continued threat of militant penetration into southern provinces was highlighted by the clearing of four VBIEDs in Karbala. Despite the group’s intent to strike the South-East in the lead-up to the festival, the focus of ISIS on northern provinces should ensure that attacks remain low-impact.

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Total, Marathon Discovery at Harir Block

By John Lee.

Total and Marathon Oil have confirmed a discovery of light oil and gas with condensates at the Harir Block, 60 kilometers from the city of Erbil.

The Jisik-1 discovery well was drilled to a depth of 4,511 meters and encountered light oil and gas with condensates intervals in Jurassic and Triassic carbonate reservoirs.

Jisik is the second discovery in the Block, following on from the Mirawa-1 discovery, announced in October of last year.

Marc Blaizot (pictured), Senior Vice President, Exploration at Total, commented:

“This success confirms Total’s exploration strategy in Iraq.

“The ongoing appraisal of the discoveries made on the Harir and Taza Blocks will allow us to identify options for development…

“We are continuing exploration works on the Total-operated Safen and Baranan Blocks, with additional wells planned for 2015.”

The Jisik-1 well encountered light oil of 43 API in a Jurassic carbonate reservoir. The well was tested with flow rates of 6,100 barrels per day of anhydrous oil, without stimulation.

Two other formation tests, both with flows rates of approximately 10-15 million cubic feet per day, confirmed the presence of gas reservoirs together with associated condensate in the Triassic.

Total has a 35% interest in the Harir Block, alongside Marathon Oil (45%, operator) and the Kurdistan Regional Government (20%).

(Source: Total)

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