Tag Archive | "Sonangol"

Sonangol Pulls Out of Iraq

By John Lee.

Angola’s Sonangol has decided to abandon its Qayara and Najmah oilfields in Nineveh province due to security problems.

Reuters reports that Anabela Fonseca, Sonangol board member in charge of international investments, told a news conference:

Our presence in Iraq was as an operator in an area with much conflict. Last year we were unable to develop any work due to security matters … and so we took the decision to leave.

The state-owned company won the right to operate the fields in 2009, taking a 75 percent stake. Reserves are estimated at about 800 million barrels for Qayara and 900 million for Najmah.

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Oil said it would not hold Sonangol to its committed schedule at the oilfields, as a result of the problems faced by the company.

(Sources: Reuters, Iraq Oil Report, Aswat al Iraq)

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ENI Stays in Last Minute Deal, Sonangol Exits

By John Lee.

Tense negotiations between Baghdad and Italy’s ENI came to a close just hours before ENI was supposedly going to call time on their Iraq operations, Reuters reports.

ENI CEO Paulo Scaroni made his dissatisfaction clear to reporters on Tuesday before the new deal was struck, stating,

“If they do not sign the contracts in a couple of weeks we will go. We have waited six months. I am hopeful, we have no reason to believe they won’t do it.”

In the North, Angola’s Sonangol ended its operations citing security concerns. An Iraqi government official blamed persistent al-Qaeda activity in the area.

But the decision of ENI’s CEO to stay in Iraq is a victory of sorts for the Iraqi government following a series of reports about the damaging effect of bureaucracy and unattractive  contractual terms offered by the government.

ENI has now gained approval to raise production at the Zubair field from 320,000 bpd to 850,000 bpd. An Iraqi government spokesperson said of the recent deal,

“We respect Eni and take their opinions seriously. We want them to stay in Iraq.We’re doing our best to approve high-cost contracts as quickly as we can. If they are delayed, it affects productivity and profitability.”

(Source: Reuters)



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“No Time Limit” for Sonangol

An Oil Ministry spokesman has said that the ministry “will not put time limit for the Angolan oil company [Sonangol] in developing Najma and Qayara oilfield, due to the security obstacles facing it in these areas”.

According to the report from Aswat Al Iraq, the company suffered terrorist attacks on its personnel and sites, so the ministry is giving the company additional time to complete its work.

The company got its permission in the second oil bids of 2010 to develop the two sites for nine years.

At Najma, it will get $5 per barrel, provided that the production average is at least 210.000 bpd, while at Qayara it will get $6 per barrel, provided the average is at least 110.000 bpd for nine years.

(Source: Aswat Al Iraq)

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Big Oil to spend $25bn in Iraq Next Year

By John Lee.

Iraq’s deputy prime minister for energy, Hussain al-Shahristani (pictured), has said that ‘Big Oil’ is about to spend over $25 billion next year to boost oil output towards record levels.

He predicted that the southern fields are expected to pump an extra 500,000 bpd in 2014, compared to just over 3 million bpd this year.

Additionally, Baghdad is increasing security at the smaller fields such as Najmah and Qayara — operated by the Angolan company Sonangol in the al-Qaeda heartland of Nineveh — and at the Akkas gasfield in Anbar, operated by South Korea’s Kogas.

He told Reuters:

We are definitely concerned about the upsurge in violence, but our concern is for the Iraqi people throughout the country. Iraq is trying its best to combat terrorism …

“The security situation has not affected the oilfields in the south and central Iraq and we haven’t noticed any hesitation or slow down in investment by the companies.

But Shahristani said he did not expect militants to inflict any lasting damage on Iraq’s strategic oil network, which has helped generate revenues of nearly $60 billion this year.

The security situation is not affecting our investment decisions,” said an oil company source. “Iraq has such huge and easy to access resources: one way or another, the foreign oil companies will find a way to make money.

(Source: Reuters)

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Black Skies over Qayara: Oil Fire Poisons Locals

By Abdullah Salem.

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.

After extremists set off bombs on Iraq’s most dangerous oil field, the resulting fire burned for a month. The result: toxic smoke, two deaths, accusations, environmental disaster and lots of dirty laundry. For a month recently, the skies above Qayara were black with smoke. A pillar of grey clouds could be seen from 40 kilometres away.

The cause: an oil well fire. For people living near here, next to one of the most dangerous oil fields in Iraq because of its proximity to the conflicted city of Mosul, this is not a new experience. But the length of time it took to put the fire out and weeks of a potentially poisonous smoke were. The smoke contained dangerous levels of hydrogen sulphide, which is heavier than air, very poisonous, and flammable.

On April 5, three of Qayara’s 90–plus oil wells were targeted by unidentified extremists, who set off explosives causing a major fire at the wells. Two of the oil well fires were extinguished by civil defence teams but a third – at Field 74 – kept burning. A team that specialised in these kinds of fires was then brought up from Baghdad but they too seem to have had difficulty extinguishing the fire.

The oil field is being run by Angolan oil company, Sonangol.Visiting the area at the time, one immediately noticed a dirt wall, around three metres high, hiding the site of the fire. There are people relatively near the site and most of them look justifiably worried. Some were members of the special team sent by Iraq’s Ministry of Oil. And they say that the fire shouldn’t be extinguished until all the toxic gases coming out of the well have been burned up. “We could extinguish this fire in a few hours,” one of them told NIQASH. “But the more we keep it burning, the more we will protect people against the toxic gases.”

Local oil industry specialist, Adib Othman, who used to work for the Iraqi national petrol company, North Oil, explained that the fire had started out in the excavation under Field 74 and damaged equipment under the surface. This increased oil flow and fed the fire, leading to its continued burning and the resulting toxic gases. Othman said that this was why it had taken so long to put out the fire. He also admitted that the month-long fire would have had an impact on local peoples’ health and that he had heard of two elderly women who had died because of smoke inhalation.

Specialists estimate the well fire cost about half a million dollars a day, while it was burning.Despite this explanation, some locals still thought there was something suspicious going on. The head of the Qayara neighbourhood council, Mahmoud al-Tabour, lives two streets away from the place of the fire. In an interview with NIQASH, Mahmoud said that the security forces prevented him from coming near the well and this made him suspicious that the fire had been mishandled.

There had also been all kinds of rumours about how the fire had started and whether security guards had adequately protected the oil fields from extremists. One story had it that the fires had been started by mortars fired from a distance. Another said fires had been started by explosives planted near the oil well sites, by the roadside. And there have been accusations and recriminations from all sides, with security forces saying locals colluded with the bombers and locals saying that security forces did.

However it started, there’s no doubt about the effect the fire had. “At the beginning, I didn’t care that much about the fire and the smoke. I actually got used to the smell,” says one local named Hammoud, who lives in the Shuhada neighbourhood in Qayara. “But then I saw a report on the dangers of oil well fire and the toxic gas on TV.” As a result Hammoud has been shuttling his family of eight from one relative’s house to another for a month. He says he couldn’t completely leave the area because his children go to school nearby but that anything was better than his own home, which was only several hundred meters from the oil fields.

Another local, Kawla Shihab, told NIQASH she was happy the fire had been extinguished because she could now hang up her laundry again. She lives with her orphaned grandchildren and, as she says, “I can’t hang the laundry inside because the house is too small and it won’t dry. And I couldn’t hang the laundry outside because it was getting dirty and smoky. So I’m happy,” she concludes.

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Iraq Plans to more than Double Northern Oil Output

Iraq aims to more than double oil production  in its northern region by the end of 2014, according to a report from AFP.

Hamid Abdelrizak al-Saadi, general manager of the North Oil Company, said the planned increases for various fields would bring the total to about 1.3 million bpd, from a current level of about 600,000 bpd.

He said the plan for the company, which is in charge of oil and gas fields in Kirkuk, Anbar, Salaheddin and Nineveh provinces, involves increasing production at a number of fields:

  • the Kirkuk field, from 280,000 bpd to 600,000 bpd;
  • the Bai Hassan field, also in Kirkuk, from 195,000 bpd to 250,000 bpd;
  • the Jambur field in northern Kirkuk, from 36,000 bpd to 80,000 bpd;
  • the Ajeel field in Salaheddin province, from 25,000 bpd to 35,000 bpd; and,
  • the Hamrin field in Salaheddin, from between 20,000 and 25,000 bpd to 60,000 by the beginning of 2013.

There is also a project for Angolan company Sonangol to develop the two fields of Qayara and Najmah in Nineveh province, south of Mosul, so they produce 230,000 bpd in the next three years.

(Source: AFP)

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Weekly Security Update for 13th January 2012

The year 2012 has not begun well for Iraq. Levels of violence rose in the country last week, with at least 107 people killed and 300 injured in nationwide incidents. Several of the latest bombings have targeted pilgrims gathering in the centre of the country to mark Arba’een. The holy religious period is currently at its culmination, but attacks may continue over the coming days as worshippers return home following the conclusion.

In Ninawa province violence was concentrated in the city of Mosul while attacks were dispersed through the province of Ta’mim, where the contested city of Kirkuk is located. Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) territory also saw a number of violent incidents, but they were largely related to low-level criminality and local disputes rather than politics or terrorism. Perhaps the most notable incident in the north was an explosive attack directed against equipment belonging to Angolan energy firm Sonangol. No-one was harmed during the incident but the attack serves as a reminder that oil and gas firms remain an attractive target for militants in the country. They are a political pressure point for groups trying to send a signal to the government, as well as an emblematic representation of the international community. The fact that many of these firms work in parts of the country (and wider world) where operational risks can be quite high means that safety and security will continue to play a major role in the industry. Indeed, perhaps there is no sector better equipped for the rigours of a hostile environment than those already compliant with extensive industry-wide HSEQ legislation.

Weekly Attacks in Iraq - the last 6 months

Much of the violence last week was concentrated in the centre of the country. Security measures are currently heightened as the country marks the Shi’ah holy period of Arba’een. The event sees numerous Shi’ah pilgrims converging on mosques and shrines, particularly in Karbala. Terrorist attacks targeting the event should be anticipated over the coming days and large crowds should be avoided. At least four people were kidnapped in Iraq over the course of the week, including a Turkmen contractor who managed to escape within 24 hours of his abduction in northern Salah ad-Din province. Another kidnap victim, held for an unspecific period of time was also rescued during an operation in Diyala province. The police regularly manage to free kidnap victims in the country, which is re-assuring as regards their growing abilities. However, it is likely that many more kidnap cases go unreported and unsolved. Conditions are not as bad as during earlier years when the kidnap industry was widespread and highly lucrative, but it certainly remains a concern in the country. AKE has just released its quarterly kidnap report. If you would like to enquire about purchasing a copy please email [email protected]

The southern region remains one of the quietest parts of the country with very few incidents of violence recorded last week. However, a suicide bomb targeted a gathering of Shi’ah pilgrims in Dhi Qar province, killing at least 44 people and injuring over 80. The attack was the first in Dhi Qar province in 10 weeks and the first suicide bombing in the south of the country in over four months. Security searches along the Baghdad-Nassiriyah highway were increased and are likely to remain fairly rigorous for at least a week as Arba’een draws to a close.

John Drake is a senior risk consultant with AKE, a British private security firm working in Iraq since 2003. You can access AKE’s intelligence website Global Intake here, and you can obtain a free trial of AKE’s Iraq intelligence reports here.


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Sonangol Equipment Blown Up in Nineveh

AKnews reports that uniformed militants have blown up about 10 machine tools used by Sonangol, Angola’s national oil company, in the province of Nineveh on Thursday.

Sonangol won contracts to develop the al-Najma and al-Qayara oil fields near the provincial capital Mosul in 2009.

The equipment was blown up by IEDs that were placed inside the site, and alhough there were about a dozen Iraqi guards they reportedly did nothing to stop the gunmen, according to police, allegedly because the gunmen threatened them.

Police have detained 10 of the guards for interrogation on suspicion of being involved in the attack.

(Source: AKnews)

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