Basra News


KBR Confirms Contract to Develop Majnoon

KBR, Inc. announced today that it has been awarded a contract by the Basra Oil Company (BOC) for the development of the Majnoon Oil Field in Basra, Iraq.

Under the terms of the contract, KBR says it will provide overall project management, multi-discipline engineering support, procurement and construction management services to BOC under a two plus one year extendable service contract.

Jay Ibrahim (pictured), KBR President Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific region, commented:

KBR has a long and rich history in Iraq and we are excited to be able to leverage our broad expertise in onshore oil and gas processing facilities across the project lifecycle as a true partner to BOC.

“This award highlights BOC’s confidence in KBR’s capabilities to deliver in multiple engineering discipline areas across a variety of projects. We look forward to transferring our knowledge and experience to local Iraqis in order to leave a lasting legacy in the country.

A statement from the Ministry of Oil at the end of April put the value of the contracts with KBR and China’s Anton Oilfield Services Group (Antonoil) at $118 million, adding that there would be “other secondary contracts” to follow.

BOC is expected to take over operations at Majnoon from Shell by the end of June.

(Sources: KBR, Ministry of Oil)

Running for the Children of Iraq

Bright and early last Saturday morning, runners in the Washington, DC area took off when the starting gun fired.

It was the sixth annual IN THEIR SHOES 5K for Iraq’s most vulnerable children.  This year, for the first time, the US-based 5K was joined by a “sister” 5K in Basra, Iraq, hosted by BP.

Veterans, Iraqi-Americans, diplomats, businesses, children, and families all joined to raise awareness and support for Iraq’s orphans, street kids, and displaced children.  The result?  A record $59,000 was raised to deliver tutoring, legal protection, nutrition, health care, and childhood fun to some of the most vulnerable and at risk kids in Iraq.

Joined by Iraq’s Ambassador to the United States Fareed Yasseen, the three Youth Ambassadors for the 5K – Humoody, Teeba, and Ala’a – served as the faces and voices of children back in Iraq.

Team Teeba won for the largest 5K team with 33 registered, and the Iraqi-American Young Professionals (IAYP) came in second with 23.  Tim Reilly and Veronica Scott took home trophies for first place in the men and women’s division.

Looking for your race time?  Check here.  Pictures of the event?  Check out recent posts and an album on our ICF Facebook page.

The race was followed by an after party with music by Salaam Band, dancing,  and Iraqi food.  Our friends at Old Town’s Casa Rosada Artisan Gelato provided free gelato for everyone, and there was face painting and balloon animals for the kids.  At a table hosted by Kids Giving Hope to Kids, special drawings were made for Hope Bus kids in Baghdad

To each of you who ran or walked, donated or volunteered, the Iraqi Children Foundation (ICF) expresses its deepest appreciation.  Thanks for being a part of the team to deliver love and hope to Iraq’s children!

(Source: ICF)

(Photo credits: George Banker and BP)

Japan Supports Development of Water Supply and Irrigation

JICA to Support Reconstruction through Development and Rehabilitation of Water Supply and Irrigation Facilities:

On 3 May, 2018, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Iraqi Government signed two loan agreements at Ministry of Finance in Baghdad.

These two ODA (Official Development Assistance) loans, amounting to JPY 34,880 million (approximately USD 329 million) in total, will be used for Basrah Water Supply Improvement Project (II) and Irrigation Sector Loan (Phase 2).

The loan agreements were signed by Dr. Maher Hammad Johan, Acting Deputy Minister of Finance and Masayuki Hirosawa, Chief Representative of JICA Iraq Office, in the presence of H.E. Mr. Fumio Iwai, Japanese Ambassador to Iraq.  These concessional ODA loans aim to contribute to economic and social reconstruction of Iraq by supporting the Government of Iraq and Iraqi people in efforts to reconstruct and develop further the basic infrastructures for utilization of water resources.

The first loan, Basrah Water Supply Improvement Project (II) amounting to JPY 19,415 million (approx. USD 183 million), is the second tranche loan for Basrah Water Supply Improvement Project.  The entire project is intended to develop water supply facilities and to improve quantity and quality of water supplied in Basrah city and Hartha city.

A new treatment plant with a reverse osmosis plant and transmission system, including a reservoir and a pumping station, are under construction with the finance of the first tranche, the amount of which is JPY 42,969 million (approx. USD 350 million).  The second tranche will be utilized mainly for construction of transmission lines.  After the completion, approximately 600, 000 residents and businesses in the two cities are expected to have access to clean and reliable water.

The second loan, Irrigation Sector Loan (Phase 2) amounting to JPY 15,465 million (approx. USD 146 million), aims to improve agricultural productivity by construction and rehabilitation of irrigation/drainage facilities and restoration of farmland mainly in the Tigris and Euphrates river basin.

While agriculture is the main source of employment and livelihoods for rural population in Iraq, its productivity remains low due to drought in summer seasons, aged irrigation and drainage systems, and rising salinity level of soil and water, and reduced river inflow from the upstream countries. Following the previous first phase project in similar nature assisted by JICA, this second phase project is expected to contribute to increased agricultural production, reduced soil degradation, more job opportunities, and alleviation of poverty in rural areas.

These loans are very concessional with the low interest rates and long repayment periods: the interest rate of 1% and the repayment period of 20 years including 6-year grace period for Basrah Water Supply Improvement Project (II), and the interest rate of JPY 6-month LIBOR+0.15% and the repayment period of 25 years including 7-year grace period for Irrigation Sector Loan (Phase 2).

(Source: JICA)

$234m Resort to be built in Basra

By John Lee.

Oil Minister Jabar Ali al-Luaibi [Allibi, Luiebi] (pictured) has announced the construction of a tourism and entertainment resort in Basra, to “honor and appreciate its role to support the national economy as a generous oil governorate.

The $234-million Muftiya City project has been awarded to an international holding company he named as Daiko.

The land to be used for the project is owned by the oil products distribution company.

According to information previously released by the Ministry of Oil, the 38-acre water city will included a waterpark, a leisure resort for families, and an aquarium. There will also be a zoo over 52 acres, a closed football stadium, Olympic swimming pool, sports and entertainment facilities, and restaurants.

(Source: Ministry of Oil)

Abadi visits Japan to Boost Trade

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has arrived in Tokyo for discussions with major Japanese industry and government.

He met the CEO of Sumitomo Corporation, Kuniharu Nakamura to discuss future projects in Iraq, including the establishment of factories for car manufacturing in Iraq and providing after-sales services.

He also met Hiroyuki Ishige, Chairman and CEO of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), who said that Japanese companies are keen to invest in Iraq, adding that his organization wants to expand its office in Iraq.

The rehabilitation of the Haritha power plant in Basra was discussed with the President and CEO of Mitsubishi Corporation, Takehiko Kakiuchi, while Ichiro Kashitani, President and CEO of Toyota Tsusho Group, discussed supplying fixed and mobile power stations.

(Source: Office of the Prime Minister)

Saudi Arabia looks to Expand its Footprint in Iraq

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.

Following Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s two visits to Saudi Arabia last year, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is set to visit Iraq soon, according to Iraqi parliamentarian Saadoun al-Dulaimi.

Although neither Riyadh nor Baghdad have officially announced the visit, Dulaimi said in a March 12 tweet that Prince Mohammed will spend two days in Iraq, first meeting with Abadi in Baghdad to “sign agreements,” followed by a visit to Najaf to meet religious leaders.

Saudi Arabia was scheduled to reopen its consulate in the oil-rich city of Basra, which is adjacent to Iran, in March, but this was delayed for administrative reasons. Some reports say that Mohammed may open the consulates in Basra and Najaf, the Shiite religious center that is home to top Shiite clerics, during his upcoming visit to Iraq.

Meanwhile, the Saudi Embassy in Iraq is in the process of setting up the consulate office at the Sheraton Hotel in Basra. The consulate was closed in 1990 in the wake of the Gulf crisis that erupted during the regime of Saddam Hussein, and remained closed as a result of tensions in Saudi-Iraqi relations.

The Saudi kingdom opened a consulate in Erbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq, in early 2016.

The decisions to expand Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic representation in Iraq come as part of a broader framework to strengthen the official political relations between the two governments. Saudi Arabia is seeking to establish economic and social bridges between the two countries in various fields.

Abdul Rahman al-Shahri, head of the Saudi delegation responsible for the establishment of the consulate in Basra, said that these measures are carried out to “provide services and incentives to both religious pilgrims and economic delegations between the two countries.”

Abdul Aziz al-Shammari, Saudi ambassador to Iraq, said in a statement in January, “Saudi Arabia is mostly interested in developing relations between the two countries in all areas that serve their aspirations.”

In late February, a friendly soccer game was held between Saudi Arabia and Iraq in the city of Basra, the first between the two countries in three decades. The game was attended by Saudi delegations and a large crowd of Iraqi fans.

The media office of Abadi said in a statement March 5 that the prime minister had received a phone call from Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, in which the latter pledged to build a soccer stadium in Baghdad for 100,000 spectators. It was later announced that Saudi Arabia would increase the number of seats to 135,000.

The statement said that “King Salman expressed his readiness and commitment to expand the positive relations between Iraq and Saudi Arabia at the economic, commercial, popular and cultural levels, as well as all levels of interest to both countries.”

Saudi companies, most recently the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation, one of the world’s leading petrochemicals companies, have been opening offices in Baghdad and Basra to expand economic exchange between the two countries.

Saudi Arabia is focusing its attention on Basra because it is the richest city in Iraq with the country’s largest oil fields and gateway to the Persian Gulf. It is also the most populous city after Baghdad, is adjacent to the Iranian border and home to an overwhelming majority of Shiites who share the same tribal and ethnic origins with Saudi tribes. In addition, many Saudi and Basra families are linked through marriage.

Saudi Arabia is also receiving Shiite figures who are viewed as independent of Iran. These include Sadrist movement leader Muqtada al-Sadr, who visited Saudi Arabia last year and met with King Salman and Prince Mohammed. He was warmly received amid much fanfare.

Saudi news sites, most notably Al-Arabiya, are refraining from criticizing supreme Shiite cleric Ali al-Sistani, because his views are independent from those of Tehran and has broad influence among Iraqi Shiites.

All this has been a matter of concern for Iran, which has allegedly mobilized parties to raise banners in Basra condemning the opening of the Saudi Consulate and the various economic and sporting activities.

The State of Law Coalition led by former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is close to Iran, opposes Saudi Arabia’s opening of a consulate in Najaf.

Iraq is seemingly determined to pursue rapprochement and cooperation with Saudi Arabia, and is organizing regular visits by political, economic and media delegations. These included Abadi’s visit to Saudi Arabia last October, during which the memorandum of establishment of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council was signed to develop relations between the two countries.

Interior Minister Qasim al-Araji also visited Saudi Arabia last year, and Abadi insisted on receiving Saudi delegations even if they were not high level. In February, for instance, he received the Saudi media delegation that visited Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi Journalists Union.

In October, Saudi Arabia resumed its flights to Iraq after 27 years, and it opened in October 2017 its border crossing in southern Iraq to expand economic travel and increase tourist and religious travel between the two sides.

The first initiatives to expand relations between the two countries were directly sponsored by the United States with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attending the meeting of the establishment of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council in Riyadh in October.

The Iraqi-Saudi rapprochement appears to take place in the context of the new US policy that followed the support garnered by President Donald Trump from the US allies in the region to form a united front to counter Iran’s rise in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia has seemingly made great progress in achieving rapprochement with Iraq and expanding its areas of influence within the last year. Such rapprochement is likely to get stronger should Abadi manage to keep his seat for another term in the elections scheduled for May.

Biwater, Wood Partnership to Improve Iraq’s Water Infrastructure

A strategic partnership has been established between Biwater and Wood to work together in Iraq to address acute water shortages, beginning with the supply of water to the Basrah region.

This important agreement between two leading UK infrastructure firms, demonstrates the scale of international interest and support in Iraq’s extensive infrastructure reconstruction efforts, and follows the signing of a MoU between the Government of Iraq and UK Export Finance (UKEF) in March 2017, to underwrite GBP £10 billion of infrastructure projects in Iraq over the next 10 years.

Commenting on the partnership, Biwater’s Chairman, Sir Adrian White (pictured), said:

I am delighted with this new partnership, which is another significant step forward in delivering our respective ambitions within the water industry.

“Biwater’s focus will be to work with Wood – applying the vast knowledge and expertise of both companies – to deliver on the immediate requirements for Iraq’s water infrastructure, especially that required by the Basrah Governorate.”

Bob MacDonald, CEO of Wood’s Specialist Technical Solutions business, said:

We are proud to be offering our diverse capabilities and broad, innovative solutions to support a partnership that offers our continuing support to the redevelopment of Iraq as well as making a difference to millions of people.

“Our focus will be on providing safe and reliable water distribution systems to the Iraqi population. We look forward to working in partnership with Biwater, which is another significant step towards broadening our portfolio.”

(Source: Biwater)

FIFA Lifts Ban on Iraq Hosting Int’l Matches

By John Lee.

Soccer’s governing body FIFA has lifted its three-decade ban on Iraq hosting international football.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino is quoted as saying that this will allow international matches to be played in Erbil, Basra (pictured) and Karbala, where the security situation was considered to be “stable“, but not yet in Baghdad.

Iraq will host Qatar and Syria for a friendly tournament starting on March 21 in Basra.

(Sources: AFP, Reuters)

Saudi Arabia to Fund Iraqi Football Stadium

By John Lee.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has promised to build a football stadium in Iraq.

The news followed a friendly match between the two countries’ teams in Basra last week.

The Iraqi-Saudi Ministerial Coordination Council met on Monday to discuss the measures needed to improve cooperation in the economic, investment, cultural and other sectors.

(Sources: Asharq al-Awsat, Reuters)