Iraq Petroleum Sector Chronicle - Research and Publishing Project

By Ahmed Mousa Jiyad.

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

Iraq Petroleum Sector Chronicle - Research and Publishing Project

Iraq Petroleum Sector Chronicle-IPSC is my major research and publishing project, which I intend to accomplish as fast as I could. This note provides brief information on this project, what has been done so far, the timeframe, its purpose, the main components of its research methodology and the way forward.

IPSC Project comprises authoring and publishing a series of books/volumes, each is time-specific devoted for one year or period, published under the same title but with different sub-titles, reflecting the main trends that dominate the debate and attention during the period covered by the volume.

The project is one fruition of many decades of constant meticulous research, consultation, documentation, follow up and direct involvement efforts, and of more than six decades since my formal association and engagement with the Ministry of Oil.

The first two books were published by Lambert Academic Publishing-LAP and the third is forthcoming this November or December.

The first Iraq Petroleum Sector Chronicle book has a subtitle, "Grand Opening for Big Push Strategy" and covers the development in the upstream petroleum in Iraq prior to 2011. The subtitle reflects the mood, sentiments, actions, and views that prevailed then both inside and outside Iraq, expecting Iraq to be a game changer in the international petroleum scene; that was premised on the concluded service contracts pursuant to the bid rounds, particularly the first and the second bid rounds. The book/volume was published in October 2021 and my dear colleague Tariq Shafiq wrote the Preface.

Signs of powerful restraints and constraints began to emerge and thoughts for revisions were contemplated during 2011. Hence, the subtitle for the second volume reflects that dramatic shift from high expectations originally formulated after concluding the above-mentioned contracts; it was, "A Game Changer, No More". The volume was published in May 2022 and its Preface was written by my dear colleague Dr. Walid Khadduri.

The third book, forthcoming soon, covers 2012 with subtitle, "Reality Seldom Coincides with Expectations"; it is in fact a logical continuation or extrapolation of the subtitle for the previous volume. This third book contains many new additions and improvements, especially regarding data and statistics covered in part four. My colleague, Thamir Al-Ghadhban enriched the book by introducing it through with his Preface.

I am very grateful and deeply indebted to my colleagues for their kind support by writing the prefaces, each, in fact, adds much value to the books.

I am planning and determined to publish further volumes covering years 2013 onwards, since I have done already the basic research material, collected the needed documents and compiled related statistics in my Database.

The prime purposes behind this IPSC are many; to make the books convenient references for those interested in Iraqi petroleum sector, to understand the complexity of related issues and to know the nature and depth of the discourse that prevailed in each year and positions taken by different parties; what, when by whom and, probably, why!!

It aims also to be a credible, reliable, and verifiable source of data and information that enhances the national memory and public awareness, knowledge, and education to combat inaccurate, recycled, shallow and inconsistent mass of disinformation, populism that plagued the sphere surrounding the development in this vital sector in the country.

Over the years, many postgraduate students contacted me asking for help and guidance on many aspects related to their academic research on Iraq and the petroleum sector; this IPSC Project could be very helpful for future and young scholars, researchers, and postgraduate students.

Through my consultancy work and engagement in organising and delivering training and capacity development activities, I realized how much actually and critically is needed to have proper, accurate, professional understanding of the main trends of development; what stands behind and explains them and what evidence are there to explore away from politization, personalization, conspiracy theory formulations and stigmatization tendencies that are widely present in Iraqi discourse. This IPSC project is both an outcome from and instrumental to deliver credible consultancy assignments and enhancing training/ capacity development activities.

Moreover, government officials, at different levels of authority and decision making, parliamentarians, advisors, politicians, commentators, media are, more often than not and for very different reasons, preoccupied with and focus on "current" issue, without having the right and relevant background information pertaining to these same issues. Important examples to be cited in this regard are bid rounds, service contracts, Oil and Gas Law, INOC Law and the Constitution, among others. Hence, IPSC project becomes an indispensable "helping kit" for enhancing national and formal memory on petroleum sector and related topics.

The research methodology for IPSC project is premised on the following pillars, guiding principles and ethics:

First, it is evidence-base with provided sources, mostly accessible; this allows verifiability, crosschecking and use for further research work and referencing.

Second, it is participatory with multi-perspectives, providing different views and opinions pertaining to the development of the sector in the covered period; it subscribes to and facilitates critical thinking.

Third, it is a sector-wide, covering the three sub-sectors of petroleum: upstream, midstream, and downstream. Moreover, each sub-sector, actually, comprises its own sub-sectors of different but related activities. This distinction is vital, particularly when it comes to debating and assessing legal frameworks and contracting modalities, especially for those with limited familiarity with the petroleum industry.

Fourth, it follows a multidisciplinary approach whenever necessary and possible. Economic, technical, legal, political economy, geopolitical and strategic, among other branches of knowledge and schools of thoughts are always reflected in what each volume comprises.

Fifth, statistical data are always compiled from original data provided by specified, known, accessible and formal sources. Date of access is provided for data, information and documentation compiled from online sources, such as websites, twitter, emails, and direct communication.

Sixth, each volume comprises four parts and the contents of each part reflects the extent of attention given to and prevailed conditions and dynamics of development in the year covered by the volume. Part four in each volume, i.e., data and statistical analysis, is continuous and cumulative; it covers the year of the volume and, whenever possible and available on, previous years as well. That permits comparative analysis and use different statistical methods with availability of sufficient timeseries and good number of observations.

Seventh, all items included in parts one, two and three are written or published in English. For practical reasons, materials written in Arabic are not included, unless they were already translated and/or published in English.

Eighth, items included in parts one, two and three are re-published "as is/was" originally published in the related year of the volume, not about that year written in a latter-on year. No changes, amendments or redrafting is made, except for editing requirements such as unified font type and size, line spacing, footnote or endnote format, and alike.

Ninth, selection of items for parts two and three is done by using an objective criterion premised on substance, relevance, diversity of opinions, and pros and cons.

Particular attention is granted to items included in part two. Principally, this part is devoted for Iraqi professional views from inside and outside the country, from 'currently' officials or outside the government positions, from supporting the political order or opposing it, from any of the three branches of authority- executive, Legislative and Judiciary. Occasionally, this part two includes contribution by non-Iraqi professionals, when such contributions are important, relevant and add-value to the understanding of the covered issues.

Tenth, each volume in this series originates from a rather lengthy, detailed, and followed-up "annual report document". These annual reports are the core of the archival efforts, comprising well referenced, accurate, and verifiable data and sources. While archiving each annual report I read, commented, and make different remarks on each item included in that report. Contents of parts two and three of each volume/book are extracted from the annual report for the year covered by the volume, but without incorporating my comments and remarks made on them then; I do not want to influence the readers' understanding of these items with my own views. And also, since, as said above, items are re-published "as is/was" originally published in the related year of the volume.

Such annual report could extend to many hundreds of pages, depending on number and length of entries included in it and the intensity of development that took place then.

Moreover, each volume in this series utilizes my extensive, thematically well-organized, and regularly updated 'database'.

Eleventh, networking and connectivity. In addition to my database, I constructed and maintain a relatively large network of professional contacts, comprising senior government officials at different levels, parliamentarians, professionals, scholars, research institutions, academics, civil society organisation and media, among others. Such networking and professional openness and connectivity proved to be invaluable source of relevant insights, confidential materials and exchange views from wider perspectives including those from "inside the formal box" and outside it.

Twelfth, sharing and accessibility. All my writings, in Arabic and in English, are widely circulated not only through my extended network of contacts, but also published and posted on many websites and also recirculated by and within many discussion groups and debating lists; this provides convenient online accessibility.

Thirteenth, adherence to high standard of professionalism, objectivity, positive attitude and strictly avoiding personalising the debate. This is invaluable conduct, I learned, cherished, and practiced, since January 1989 when attending very rewarding intensive course on negotiation at Harvard Law School with Professor Roger Fisher; he advised us, for a win-win negotiation, focus on issues not personality. What applies to negotiation, applies to research too, particularly under charged, contentious and politicised environment.

Fourteenth, confidentiality and nondisclosure of documents are strictly respected and emphatically maintained when requested by the providing source or by client in a consultancy assignment. In such case Chatham House roles applied, i.e., referring to the substance of the provided material without stating anything that might disclose the identity of the contact or the client.

Fifteenth, MS Excel program is used for all statistics database, tabulation, charts, computation and estimation of indicators, parameters, ratios, any other quantitative estimations, and statistical and financial formulas.

Sixteenth, flexibility and adaptability of IPSC project. The project is ongoing with good degree of flexibility to adopt needed improvement and additions, particularly in part four of each volume. For example, from IPSC volume 4 onwards, it will have a new section in part four relating to the annual state budget. In fact, contents, length, structure of part four in each volume is going to be the most automatically growing part, since every year it comprises a set of data related to that year in addition to previous years for all sections in part four.

The project is open and welcomes any relevant contribution, provided it complies with and adheres to the methodological requirements and the structure of the book/ volumes above mentioned.

The way forward

The prime target for IPSC' project is to arrive, soonest, at a stage when the annual volume covers a year earlier.

Two options are under careful considerable consideration and assessing the feasibility of attaining the stated target soonest.

Option one: a year-based volume.

This option follows the same path that has been taken for volumes two and three, i.e., one year one book.

Realizing the stated target under this option implies publishing more than two books a year.

Option two: a period-based volume.

This option follows the same path that has been taken for volume one, i.e., one book covers many years.

Realizing the stated target under this option implies publishing only two, though sizeable, books a year. This option is probably feasible for and from the fifth volume, from 2014 onwards, as I have already started working on volume four covering 2013.

Any feedback on this IPSC' project is very much welcomed and highly appreciated, beforehand.

Click here to download the full report in pdf format.

Mr Jiyad is an independent development consultant, scholar and Associate with the former Centre for Global Energy Studies (CGES), London. He was formerly a senior economist with the Iraq National Oil Company and Iraq's Ministry of Oil, Chief Expert for the Council of Ministers, Director at the Ministry of Trade, and International Specialist with UN organizations in Uganda, Sudan and Jordan. He is now based in Norway (Email: mou-jiya(at), Skype ID: Ahmed Mousa Jiyad). Read more of Mr Jiyad's biography here.

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