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Natural Gas Must Be an Asset for Iraq

By Alessandro Bacci.

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

On February 27-28, 2018, the C.W.C. Group, an energy and infrastructure conference, exhibition and training company, will organize in Berlin, Germany, the twelfth edition of Iraq Petroleum, which is one of the major events concerning Iraq’s oil and gas sector.

One of the main topics of Iraq Petroleum 2018 will be the development of Iraq’s natural gas reserves with the specific goal of strengthening energy-intensive industries to diversify the Iraqi economy.

In Iraq, natural gas might really be the key driver to develop additional industrial sectors. In fact, natural gas may be used for power generation (electricity), petrochemicals, fertilizers, and other heavy industries in which gas is the primary feedstock.

In this regard, some analysts might object that the development of these new industrial sectors would not really change the picture for Iraq because its economic development would still be too linked to the oil and gas sector—in practice Iraq’s economy would continue to be overaffected by the price of oil and gas.

This observation is by no means wrong, but it’s also true that, apart from increasing oil exports (and in this regard, it will be important to see how Iraq will deal in the future with OPEC’s quota restrictions) to improve its economic standing Iraq does not have many alternatives to developing its natural gas resources and then using them to add other industrial sectors to the economy.

Please click here to download the full report.

Alessandro Bacci is an independent energy consultant in relation to business strategy and corporate diplomacy (policy, government, and public affairs). Much of his activity is linked to the MENA region, an area where he lived for four years. Alessandro is now based in London, United Kingdom (www.alessandrobacci.com). A multilingual professional, Alessandro holds a Bachelor of Laws and Master of Laws from the University of Florence (Italy), a Master in Public Affairs from Sciences Po (France), and a Master in Public Policy from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (Singapore).    

Price of Iranian Goods Falls 30% in Iraqi Kurdistan

By John Lee.

A sharp fall in the value of the Iranian rial has reportedly reduced the price of Iranian goods in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq by 30 percent, boosting demand.

According to Rudaw, trade between the Kurdistan Region and Iran amounted to $6 billion in 2016, falling to around $5.05 billion in 2017.

Tehran closed three border crossings with the Kurdistan Region at the request of Baghdad after September’s independence referendum, reopening them in early January.

More here from Rudaw.

(Source: Rudaw)

(Picture Credit: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

Stock Market Up 25% since End-October

Advertising Feature

Rabee Securities Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX) market report (week ending: 15th Feb 2018).

Please click here to download a table of listed companies and their associated ticker codes.

The RSISX index ended the week at IQD951 (+2.7%) / $991 (+2.7%) (weekly change) (+17.2% and +18.6% YTD change, respectively). The number of week traded shares was 7.1bn and the weekly trading volume was IQD7.9bn ($6.3mn).

ISX Company Announcements

  • Al-Mosul for Funfairs (SMOF) will hold AGM* on Mar. 4, 2018 to discuss and approve 2013 annual financial results and increasing the capital from IQD400mn to IQD800mn through 100% bonus issue. ISX will suspend trading of SMOF starting Feb. 27, 2018.
  • Babylon Hotel (HBAY) will hold a GA on Mar. 1, 2018 to discuss the offer of deferred investment contract postponed from the previous AGM held on Nov. 19, 2017.  ISX will suspend trading of HBAY starting Feb. 26, 2018 and the company will resume trading on Mar. 4, 2018.
  • Mouta for Remittance (MTMO) will hold a GA on Feb. 26, 2018 to elect a new BoD. The company has been suspended since Jan. 21, 2018 because the company was converting from money transfer company into an Islamic bank.
  • Iraqi Agricultural Products and Marketing Meat (AIPM) will hold a GA on Feb. 20, 2018 to elect a new BoD. ISX suspended trading of AIPM starting Feb. 15, 2018 and the company will resume trading on Feb. 21, 2018.
  • Asiacell (TASC) will be suspended from trading on Feb. 18, 2018 if the company fails to explain why the prices touched the higher limit in the last two trading sessions (Feb. 14-15, 2018).
  • AL- Kindi of Veterinary Vaccines Drugs (IKLV) will hold AGM* on Feb. 18, 2018 to discuss and approve 2016 annual financial results. ISX suspended trading of IKLV starting Feb. 13, 2018.
  • Commercial Bank of Iraqi (BCOI) announced that it will start distributing 2.6% cash dividend (IQD0.026 dividend per share) from 2015 profit starting Feb. 18, 2018.
  • Ashur International Bank for Investment (BASH) resumed trading on Feb. 12, 2018 after discussing and approving 2016 annual financial results.

KRG Opens New Section of Erbil Ring Road

By John Lee.

A new section of Erbil’s largest road was reportedly opened on Monday.

The five-kilometer stretch of the “120 Meter Road” will alleviate heavy traffic on the Erbil-Pirmam and Erbil-Koya roads, according to a report from Rudaw.

The Hemn Group has pledged to finish the next phase of the project near the Kirkuk road and another segment serving the Kirkuk-Mosul road by the end of the year, witht the entire road expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

More here from Rudaw.

(Source: Rudaw)

Iraq Receives First Batch of Russian T-90 Tanks

Iraq has received the first batch of Russian-made T-90 battle tanks as part of a purchase agreement signed last year, according to an Iraqi Defence Ministry spokesman.

“The first batch of Russian tanks arrived on February 15 at Umm Qasr Port – they have since been transported to Baghdad via the city of Basra”.

The delivery comes as part of a purchase agreement signed last year between Iraq and Russia for a total of 73 T-90s.

“The rest of the tanks will be delivered gradually,” the Defence Ministry source said, pointing out that the first batch of tanks would enter into service “in the coming days”.

(Source: GardaWorld)

GardaWorld Weekly Security Report

GardaWorld, a global leader in comprehensive security and risk management, has made its weekly security report available to Iraq Business News readers.

Prepared by GardaWorld’s Risk Analysis Team in Iraq, this essential report includes short- and medium-term outlooks on the security situation, reports and commentary on recent significant events, and a detailed overview of developments across the country.

Please click here to download the latest report free of charge.

For more information on how GardaWorld’s services can support your business in Iraq, please contact Daniel Matthews, Senior Director Iraq, at daniel.matthews@garda.com

KRG pays Genel under Receivable Settlement Agreement

Genel Energy plc has announced that it has received an override payment of $7.05 million from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

The payment represents 4.5% of Tawke gross field revenues for the month of November 2017, as per the terms of the Receivable Settlement Agreement. 

Taken together with the monthly entitlement payments for Taq Taq and Tawke announced yesterday, Genel’s net share of payments relating to November 2017 exports totals $26.81 million.

(Source: Genel Energy)

Tribal Disputes Flare in over Water Scarcity

By Mustafa Saadoun for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News

Tribal disputes flare in southern Iraq over water scarcity

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi gave instructions on Feb. 11 to stop the encroachment upon water quotas and increase the water share to Al-Mejar district in Maysan province in southern Iraq.

Abadi’s instructions came days after tribal conflicts in Iraq’s southern provinces broke out over agricultural land water quotas, prompting activists in the province to launch a campaign titled Save the Tigris in a bid to end the water crisis. There are already conflicts plaguing those provinces — especially Basra, where water issues between the southern tribes have already escalated into armed conflicts.

Hassanein al-Munshid, a civil activist in a local campaign in Maysan province working to end the water crisis, told Al-Monitor, “Tribal conflicts are intensifying in the province because of the water crisis, which might lead to additional fighting.”

He added, “There is a tribal sheikh in the northern areas of Maysan province controlling the water flow of the Tigris River to irrigate his farms. There are top officials who are aware of his acts of encroachment, but the government cannot do anything about it.”

For security reasons, Munshid did not name the sheikh.

The Iraqi government is doing its best to face the drought that hit the southern provinces due to the lack of water flowing from Turkey, which is the source of the Euphrates River. Most areas of the south and the middle Euphrates depend on the water flowing from the Euphrates.

Majid al-Gharabi, a sheikh in Diwani province, told Al-Monitor, “The reason behind the tribal differences over water is that some clans are diverting the flow of water to prevent it from reaching the farms of other tribes.”

On Jan. 21, Iraqi Minister of Water Resources Hasan al-Janabi wrote on his Facebook page that “Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in front of Abadi that Turkey is committed to postponing the filling of the Ilisu Dam and that the Turkish president is committed [to not harming] Iraq. We definitely have specific demands we seek to achieve peacefully and diplomatically in this regard.”

In an interview published by Foreign Policy Concepts on Jan. 7, the Iraqi minister said the country’s water scarcity is intensified by excessive control measures in the upper reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

Of note, 70% of the water that flows into Iraq comes from outside of Iraq’s borders, and this issue — just like any other — affects and is affected by politics, so Turkey’s construction of the Ilisu Dam faced strong Iraqi objections given the risks of drought it entails for Mesopotamia.

In the province of Dhi Qar alone, 20 clan clashes erupted recently due to water scarcity, according to Mayor Hussein Ali Raddad of the Islah district, who also confirmed that the local government in the province failed to reach any solutions regarding the issue.

Ali Raddad told Al-Monitor, “The crisis we are facing now lies in the tribal conflicts that sometimes escalate into violence.”

Iraqi officials say the reason behind the water crisis in the country is that not enough water is flowing into Iraq from Turkey, warning of a looming “disaster” in the coming months.

Meanwhile, a number of citizens blame the Iraqi government for the tribal conflicts erupting in the country, saying the government is incapable of monitoring the distribution of water quotas to farmers. Some tribes are not getting their share of the water while others are getting more than their specified quota, citizens told Radio Nawa.

Water is not sufficiently flowing into farms from the main sources in their provinces, worsening the issues between tribes.

The water crisis may serve as the impetus for new demonstrations in Iraq, specifically in the southern regions where some tribes warned the Iraqi government of a “war” that may erupt in the absence of appropriate measures to resolve the water crisis.

In Maysan province, water shortages are no less serious than those in Dhi Qar, Samawah and Wasit. The capital city of Maysan, Amarah, may suffer a major disaster as a result of drought, as waves of displacement will ensue, the marshes will dry out, the livestock will die and the agriculture industry will be doomed, officials say.

This is not the first time that armed conflicts have erupted between the tribes of southern Iraq over water. Three years ago, the dispute escalated between the tribes of the provinces of Muthanna and Diwaniyah for the same reason.

Parts of southern Iraq are going through a phase no less serious than the situation in the Sunni areas of Anbar, Salahuddin and Ninevah. Water is the dwindling lifeblood that could lead to long-term tribal fighting in those areas.

Despite its attempts, the Iraqi government is seemingly unable to control the tribal differences over water in the areas of southern Iraq, especially considering that there are tribes and families controlling the water flow and preventing it from reaching other farms and areas.

The Iraqi government may have to resort to a military option to end inter-clan disputes over water and force tribes to divide water quotas. Otherwise, some farms will be deprived of their quotas.

New Career Opportunities in Iraq

By John Lee.

The United Nations has advertised new positions in Iraq:

(Source: UN)

New Career Opportunities in Iraqi Kurdistan

By John Lee.

The United Nations has advertised new positions in Iraqi Kurdistan:

(Source: UN)