Kurdistan News

Rosneft, KRG sign Gas Development Agreement

As part of the XXII St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Rosneft and the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq signed an agreement securing the intention of the Parties to make a detailed analysis of potential gas cooperation options.

The Parties ensure stepwise implementation of the arrangements following the Investment Agreement signed at the XXI St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

Rosneft will focus its analysis on how to participate in the integrated gas business value chain in the region in order to extract maximum efficiency from investments and operations in such areas as exploration and production, transportation and trading with especial attention given to partnership and project (third party) financing options.

Under the Agreement the Parties will elaborate an integral plan to progress the gas business within the Kurdish Region of Iraq. One step in this plan is the conduct of a pre-FEED of Iraqi Kurdistan’s gas pipeline construction and operation.

This is a key project to the monetization of the exploration and production opportunities Rosneft has been evaluating since signing a Gas Cooperation Agreement with the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq at the 10th Eurasian Economic Forum in Verona on 19 October 2017.

Following the outcomes of the integral development plan in terms of the attractiveness and efficiency of the options, Rosneft will decide on how to participate in the regional gas business.

(Source: Rosneft)

German Archaeologists Discover Ancient City of Mardaman

Translations of Assyrian writings found by archaeologists from the University of Tübingen have yielded a secret lost to history: The place where the clay tablets were found – Bassetki, in Autonomous Region of Kurdistan in Iraq – appears to be the ancient royal city of Mardaman.

This important northern Mesopotamian city is cited in ancient sources, but researchers did not know where it lay. It existed between 2,200 and 1,200 years BC, was at times a kingdom or a provincial capital and was conquered and destroyed several times.

Archaeologists from Tübingen’s Institute for Ancient Near Eastern Studies excavated the archive of 92 clay tablets in summer 2017. Headed by Professor Peter Pfälzner, the team is working at the Bronze Age site with Dr. Hasan Qasim of the Duhok Antiquities Department. The clay tablets date to the Middle Assyrian Empire, about 1,250 BC.

The small, partly crumbling tablets have now been read painstakingly by the University of Heidelberg philologist Dr Betina Faist, who is cooperating as specialist for the Assyrian language with the archaeological project at Tübingen. She used photographs of the texts, which bit by bit shed light on the history of the city and the region at the time of the Middle Assyrian Empire.

To the archaeologists’ surprise, Dr. Faist was able to identify the find site as the ancient city of Mardama. As the cuneiform scripts show, it was the administrative seat of a Middle Assyrian governor. This reveals a new, previously unknown province of the empire, which straddled large parts of Northern Mesopotamia and Syria in the 13th century BC. Even the name of the Assyrian governor, Assur-nasir, and his tasks and activities are described in the tablets. “All of a sudden it became clear that our excavations had found an Assyrian governor’s palace,” says Pfälzner.

At the same time, the translation reveals the location of the city named as Mardaman in Old Babylonian sources from around 1,800 BC, and which is likely to be the Assyrian Mardama. According to the sources, it was the center of a kingdom which was conquered by one of the greatest rulers of the time, Shamshi-Adad I, in 1,786 BC and integrated into his Upper Mesopotamian empire. However, a few years later it became an independent kingdom under a Hurrian ruler called Tish-ulme.

A period of prosperity followed, but shortly later the city was destroyed by the Turukkaeans, people from the Zagros Mountains to the north. “The cuneiform texts and our findings from the excavations in Bassetki now make it clear that that was not the end,” Pfälzner says. “The city existed continuously and achieved a final significance as a Middle Assyrian governor’s seat between 1,250 and 1,200 BC.”

The history of Mardaman can be traced back even further, to the early periods of Mesopotamian civilization. Sources from the Third Dynasty of Ur, approximately 2,100–2,000 BC, portray it as an important city on the northern periphery of the Mesopotamian empire. The oldest source goes back to the Akkadian Empire, which is considered the first empire in history. It mentions that the city was destroyed a first time around 2250 BC by Naram-Sin, the most powerful Akkadian ruler.

“The clay tablets of Bassetki make an important new contribution to the geography of Mesopotamia,” the Assyriologist Betina Faist explains. This discovery may provide clues to the locations of other early cities in Mesopotamia, Pfälzner says. “Mardaman certainly rose to be an influential city and a regional kingdom, based on its position on the trade routes between Mesopotamia, Anatolia and Syria. At times it was an adversary of the great Mesopotamian powers. So the University of Tübingen’s future excavations in Bassetki are sure to yield many more exciting discoveries.”

The Bronze Age city site of Bassetki was discovered in 2013 by archaeologists from the Tübingen collaborative research center 1070, ResourceCultures. The clay tablets found in 2017 had been deposited in a pottery vessel used as an archive, and had been wrapped in a thick covering of clay along with other vessels. “They may have been hidden this way shortly after the surrounding building had been destroyed. Perhaps the information inside it was meant to be protected and preserved for posterity,” Pfälzner explains.

(Source: Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen)

Genel Energy Shares Up Sharply on AGM Statement

By John Lee.

Shares in Genel Energy were trading up 8 percent on Thursday morning after the company announced a big jump in cash reserves and positive developments at Peshkabir:

Stephen Whyte (pictured), Chairman of GenelEnergy plc gave the following update at the company’s Annual General Meeting this morning:

“After a landmark 2017, Genel is continuing to build momentum and generate significant amounts of cash, successfully progressing our strategy as we strive to create value for shareholders. Payments from the Kurdistan Regional Government (‘KRG’) have remained regular in 2018, and Genel has received over $100 million in the year so far. We are now approaching three years of consistent payments from the KRG.

“Our firm focus on capital discipline and identifying the best route to shareholder value creation has converted a material portion of these revenues into free cash flow, and our cash continues to grow at pace. This has led to a material improvement in our financial strength: as at 1 May 2018, unrestricted cash balances stood at $208 million ($162 million at 31 December 2017), with IFRS net debt at $89 million, a reduction of $46 million in the first four months of the year.

“Our disciplined capital allocation strategy targets those opportunities that can create maximum value for shareholders. Given the potential and performance of the Peshkabir field, this is the focus of our capital expenditure in the first half of 2018, as the field offers exciting near-term production upside.

“The first three of the six wells planned at Peshkabir have progressed on time and on budget. The Peshkabir-4 well is set to begin testing imminently, Peshkabir-5 has reached target depth and will be testing shortly, and Peshkabir-6 is drilling ahead.

“As the operator DNO has stated, production of 30,000 bopd is being targeted by the summer, doubling the 15,000 bopd from the field in the year to date – with the potential for more to follow. As Peshkabir cash flows benefit from the Receivable Settlement Agreement, and the oil price is continuing to show strength, this increase in production promises a further increase in cash flow from the Tawke PSC.

“Away from Peshkabir, the Tawke-48 well was brought onstream in April at more than 5,000 bopd, and additional development wells will follow in 2018 following mobilisation of a fourth rig. At Taq Taq, current gross production is just under 13,000 bopd, ahead of the resumption of drilling in the second half of the year.

“Our existing portfolio offers material growth potential, with Peshkabir the first of many opportunities, and we have the flexibility to move forward with those opportunities that can create the most value. Bina Bawi and Miran retain transformational potential, both in terms of gas and oil. The upstream part of the gas project has been materially de-risked and light oil at Bina Bawi offers an exciting opportunity, the progression of which is a key focus.

“As work continues to generate value from our current assets, we also have the financial strength to add assets that build on the strengths of our portfolio. Governed by strict investment criteria prioritising areas with low to moderate political risk while retaining a focus on significant cash generation, Genel has the potential to develop a rich funnel of opportunities and in turn fulfil our strategic ambition of being a world-class independent E&P creator of shareholder value.

“We have a clear strategy, material growth opportunities, and the right management team to deliver on that strategy.”

Genel will announce results for the six months ending 30 June 2018 on Tuesday 7 August 2018.

(Sources: Genel Energy, Yahoo!)

Human Rights Training for NGOs in Dohuk

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) Human Rights Office (HRO) organized a training course in Dohuk for human rights activists and staff members of NGOs working in the field of human rights in Dohuk Governorate.

The training course, entitled “Strengthening Human Rights Monitoring and Documentation Skills,” was part of a series of activities the HRO is running to support civil society organizations and regional institutions for protecting and promoting human rights in the Kurdistan Region.

The training course focused on deepening participants’ understanding on key principles, legal frameworks and core skills including fact-finding missions, interviewing, and report-writing. Sessions were provided by United Nations human rights professionals.

Representatives of 25 NGOs (10 women and 15 men) from Dohuk city and surrounding areas participated in the training.

Mr. Zito Siany, the Human Rights Officer of HRO, stated that the training is part of the HRO program aimed supporting the NGOs in Dohuk and other KR districts to build their staff members’ capacities in monitoring and documenting violations of human rights.

Participant Twana Othman, from the National Center for Human Rights (NCHR), noted that the training assisted him in acquiring knowledge about human rights monitoring principles along with his involvement in prison monitoring and holding interviews with detainees.

Mr. Othman further explained:

“Through this training I have learned the appropriate methods of preparing for and conducting interviews with the victims and have gained substantial knowledge regarding the state’s obligations towards the ratified international human rights treaties, and how to make the best use of United Nations Human Rights Conventional and Unconventional Mechanisms to protect and promote human rights.”

(Source: UN)

(Picture: Human rights, from igorstevanovic/Shutterstock)

Startup Bootcamp: ‘Entrepreneurship for All’ Programme

Startup Bootcamp, an entrepreneurship training to promote development of innovative business ideas among young innovators, entrepreneurs and software developers from displaced, refugee and host communities, took place on 4-5 May in Erbil, Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

The event was supported by IOM Iraq, and organized by Five One Labs, a start-up incubator based in Iraq that assists displaced and conflict affected entrepreneurs develop their businesses.

More than 30 entrepreneurs from across Iraq and Syria received training in business plan development and coaching from mentors; they also had the opportunity to pitch ideas to panels of judges.

The training included: entrepreneurial mindset development, customer interview techniques, ideation, business model canvassing, prototyping and pitch development. Mentors and judges included local business leaders, innovation experts, development agency staff, academics, staff from the United States Consulate in Erbil and IOM staff.

In the weeks leading up to the training, participants were chosen through a rigorous selection process based on a proposed business idea, understanding of entrepreneurship and English proficiency.

Ideas included: e-commerce platforms for groceries, books, and other products; virtual reality rehabilitation games for people with disabilities; an education platform to teach soft skills and another to teach the Kurdish language; a dental marketplace; HR management systems; and a Syrian shipping business using an Uber-like business model to send documents with travellers.

The winner was determined in a lightning round face-off between the first-place winner from the individual competition – the creator of a weight loss game – against the first-place winners from the team competition. The winning team, Darwan Soap production, is developing and marketing a soap made of natural ingredients using traditional soap-making techniques. Team members include two junior physicians, a medical student and a business manager.

“During the Startup Bootcamp we studied our customer segment and built our business model. We are excited to develop this natural soap made from the seeds of a tree that grows in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq,” said Shehin Jihad, who initiated the idea. “We are using our medical knowledge to analyse potential ingredients that are helpful for people with sensitive skin and skin conditions,” she added.

First-place winners receive: membership in the TechHub co-working space in Erbil for one month, continued business mentoring from international business experts and entrepreneurs, modest funding to cover business expenses (USD 150), and an opportunity to apply for a USD 1,000 business grant to launch their ventures.

This Startup Bootcamp is part of the ‘Entrepreneurship for All’ project, which is managed by Five One Labs in cooperation with various community partners and sponsored by IOM, with funding from the US Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM).

Entrepreneurship for All is a two-month long series of on-line and in-person business and leadership trainings across northern Iraq. Training sessions include: identifying market gaps and customer needs; creative business idea development; market and customer research; and marketing. Participants include Syrian refugees, displaced Iraqis and host community members; more than 200 people will participate. Training is provided in Arabic, Kurdish and English.

The project aims to build cohesion between entrepreneurs who have been internally displaced and the local community through entrepreneurial ventures that contribute to the local economy. In addition to the series of trainings for aspiring entrepreneurs, ten existing start-up companies launched by displaced and conflict-affected entrepreneurs will be offered advisory, legal and financial support to scale-up.

Entrepreneurship for All is implemented in the framework of the IOM 3RP programme supported by PRM. The overall aim of this programme is to provide Syrian refugees, IDPs and vulnerable host communities with access to education and employment opportunities.

For more information please contact: Sandra Black in IOM Iraq, Tel: +964 751 234 2550, Email: sblack@iom.int Alice Bosley at Five One Labs: Email: alice@fiveonelabs.org

(Source: IOM)

Safe Drinking Water for 33,000 in Erbil Governorate

Access to safe drinking water is ensured for over 33,000 people in the Governorate of Erbil

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Erbil Governorate completed the rehabilitation of the main water treatment plant in Rawanduz sub-district, which provided safe drinking water to over 33,000 people, including 2,000 internally displaced people (IDPs).

With support from the Government of Germany, UNDP’s Iraq Crisis Response and Resilience Programme (ICRRP) and Erbil Governorate upgraded key components of the treatment plant, including construction of a pumping station, main transmission pipeline and water treatment unit.

The upgrade of the water treatment plant will help alleviate chronic shortages, ensure adequate supply of clean water and improve health conditions for the local population.

At a ceremony marking the completion of the project, the Minister of Municipalities and Tourism (MOMAT) for the Kurdistan Regional Government, H.E. Mrs.  Newroz Mawlood Amin, said:

“I feel very lucky to be here today to open the Bekhal-Rawanduz water plant. The project is delivering potable water in line with international standards, benefiting people living in Rawanduz district and surrounding villages.”

The Governor of Erbil, H.E Mr. Nawzad Hadi, said:

“This project has addressed a surge in demand for basic services caused by the influx of IDPs in many villages. We thank the residents of Rawanduz for their generosity in welcoming IDPs and we praise both host communities and IDPs for living peacefully in this area.”

The Mayor of Rawanduz, Mrs. Kwestan Qadir, added:

“Because of the poor quality of water, local communities, especially children, were suffering from waterborne diseases. This project will increase the supply of drinking water to households from 1.5 hours over two days to 24 hours a day/seven days a week. This is a remarkable achievement. We are confident that the improved access to safe water will prevent potential future outbreaks of water-related diseases.”

UNDP’s Programme Manager for ICRRP, Mr. Ashley Carl, noted:

“One of the first steps to recovery after a crisis is ensuring people have access to basic services. ICRRP is strengthening access to basic services and improving the life of vulnerable communities throughout Iraq. With donor support ICRRP has launched more than 30 new infrastructure projects across the country. We are glad to have contributed to such an important project focused on supporting local authorities in meeting the increased demands for essential services to at risk communities.”

UNDP’s Iraq Crisis Response and Resilience Programme (ICRRP) promotes the recovery and resilience of communities vulnerable to multi-dimensional shocks associated with large-scale returns and protracted displacement of Iraqis and Syrian refugees.

This is achieved through a medium-term, 24-36 month period of programming integrating crisis management capacity building, rehabilitating basic service infrastructure, livelihood recovery and social cohesion.

(Source: UNDP)

KRG PM Barzani receives Minister of Industry and Minerals

KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani received Iraq’s Minister of Industry and Minerals, Mr. Mohammed Shiaa Al-Sudani and his accompanying delegation.

Minister Al Sudani expressed his satisfaction with his visit to the Kurdistan Region and participation at the conference, held in Erbil, on the development of economic relations between the Kurdistan Region and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

He highly valued the steps taken towards normalization of the relations between the Kurdistan Region and the Iraqi federal government, which led to the settlement of some of the differences between the two sides. He deemed the continuation of the talks essential to resolve all outstanding problems.

Prime Minister Barzani thanked Mr. Al-Sudani for his visit and participation at the conference, which he considered being in the interest of both Kurdistan Region’s and Iraq’s economy.

He expressed his appreciation to all the figures and parties, who helped to normalize the relations between the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad. He expressed hope for the continuation of the talks to solve all outstanding issues.

He also hoped that the two regional and federal governments’ institutions will further develop relations and cooperation.

(Source: KRG)

Gazprom Neft commissions Second Well at Sarqala

Gazprom Neft subsidiary Gazprom Neft Middle East B.V. has commissioned a second well — the Sarqala-2 — at its Sarqala field (within the Garmian block), located in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).

The new well is currently producing 11,000 barrels per day (bpd), with potential to increase this to 15,000. Total daily production at the field has now increased more than two-fold, exceeding 21,000 bpd.

Sergei Petrov, General Director, Gazprom Neft Middle East B.V. commented:

“The Sarqala-2 well is operating under high reservoir pressure and temperature. But by using exceptional technical solutions in well construction we have been able to make significant reductions in operating costs, as well as bringing the project in on time.”

Denis Sugaipov, Director of Major Projects Upstream at Gazprom Neft, added:

“Thanks to the commissioning of this new well we have been able to confirm our geological prognoses and obtain updated information on strata composition at the Sarqala field. The geology of the KRI is, generally, under-researched, so this new well is of major importance in terms of gaining knowledge and experience of the field.”

First oil from the Garmian block was obtained in 2011, with commercial crude shipments from the field commencing as early as 2015. As at 15.04.2018 total cumulative production at the field stood at seven million barrels of oil.

The first phase of expanding gathering and treatment capacity to 25,000 bpd is now complete, with work continuing on expanding infrastructure to accommodate 35,000 bpd. Drilling of the Sarqala-3 well is planned for Q3 2018, completing Phase I of field development.

(Source: Gazprom Neft)

DNO Expands and Accelerates Kurdistan Operations

DNO ASA, the Norwegian oil and gas operator, today announced expansion and acceleration of operations in the Kurdistan region of Iraq while building up its North Sea exposure.

First quarter revenues, the highest in nearly four years, stood at USD 142 million and net profit at USD 18 million. The Company exited the quarter with cash balances of USD 518 million plus USD 76 million in treasury shares and marketable securities.

The Company added a third license in Kurdistan following government and partner approvals of the previously announced transaction with ExxonMobil. Effective 10 April 2018, DNO assumed operatorship of the Baeshiqa license with a 40 percent (32 percent participating) interest alongside ExxonMobil, Turkish Energy Company and the Kurdistan Regional Government.

At the Tawke license, the Company fast tracked development of the Peshkabir field with three new wells. The recently completed Peshkabir-4 well will shortly undergo production testing and the Peshkabir-5 well is drilling ahead at 2,250 meters. The Peshkabir-6 well was spudded as a development well last week and will also explore the field’s deeper Triassic formation.

We have the wind on our back,” said DNO’s Executive Chairman Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani, “with higher oil prices, timely export payments in Kurdistan, a growing portfolio of quality assets, efficient drilling and bold strategy execution.

On the DNO-operated Tawke license containing the Peshkabir and Tawke fields, 15,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd) of production from two Peshkabir wells are comingled with 90,000 bopd from the flagship Tawke field for export through Turkey.

A new Tawke Cretaceous well was brought onstream earlier this month at more than 5,000 bopd. The Company will drill additional Tawke development wells in 2018 following mobilization of a fourth rig.

Elsewhere, the Company acquired 28.71 percent of North Sea-focused Faroe Petroleum plc at a price of GBP 1.25 per share through four separate transactions in April, complementing DNO’s existing portfolio of 19 exploration licenses offshore Norway and the United Kingdom.

DNO’s current cash balance stands at USD 356 million plus USD 280 million in treasury shares and marketable securities. The Company’s outstanding bond debt remains at USD 400 million and the equity ratio at 61 percent.

(Source: DNO)