Middle East

Kurdish gas reserve upgrade met with production questions

20 Jan 2018   Iraq

Genel Energy said Friday there were more natural gas resources in two of its Kurdish fields than expected, but an assessment said extraction might be complex. The company, which has headquarters in London, said an assessment by a third party, RPS Energy Consultants Ltd., of the Bina Bawi and Miran West fields in the Kurdish north of Iraq led to an upgrade in the estimate of gas reserves. Genel in February 2017 increased its hold over both production sharing contracts to 100 percent. The assessment from RPS upgraded the resource estimate by about 40 percent. “The recovery factors for the gas reservoirs in both fields have, in most resource categories, been increased to reflect a better understanding of potential reservoir performance,” the […]

BP Returns to a Northern Iraq Now Free of Islamic State

19 Jan 2018   Iraq

BP PLC will return to northern Iraq for the first time since Islamic State swept through the region three years ago, potentially heralding a new era of stability in one of the world’s most dangerous energy-production provinces. The move thrusts BP back into a volatile region that it fled along with Iraqi forces in 2014 as Islamic State approached. Iraqi Kurds, who have a semi-autonomous region of the country nearby, defended and held Kirkuk and its oil fields for about three years but quickly ceded them in October when Iraqi forces moved in after vanquishing Islamic State. BP’s decision marks another step toward normality for oil companies working in northern Iraq . Chevron Corp. said Wednesday it would resume drilling in the area controlled by […]

BP is back in Kirkuk

19 Jan 2018   Iraq

A memorandum of understanding promises to re-start BP’s reservoir studies, and could lead to a long-term development deal. Iraqi Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luiebi signs an MoU for BP to study the Kirkuk field on Jan. 18, 2017, at the North Oil Company headquarters, as BP President for Middle East Michael Townshend looks to the cameras. Seated next to Lueibi is Kirkuk Gov. Rakan al-Jabouri. Seated next to Townshend is BP Head of Country Zaid Elyaseri, and behind Townshend is Abdul Mahdi al-Ameedy, the director general of the ministry’s Petroleum Contracts & Licensing Directorate. (KAMARAN AL-NAJAR/Iraq Oil Report) KIRKUK – BP is primed to return to Kirkuk, after signing a memorandum of understanding Thursday. The agreement paves the way for the British super-major to resume a reservoir study, which began in 2013 but was interrupted a year later when the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) militant group took over much of […]

247 Demonstrations, 90 Cities, 14 Days: Iran’s Upheaval

19 Jan 2018   Iran

This exclusive account of 14 days of unrest in Iran reveals at least 213 anti-government protests and 34 pro-regime rallies across 90 cities. The protests were fueled by working-class grievances, and they swept through provincial cities and towns. But Tehran didn’t see massive marches that it did during the 2009 Green Movement.

Iraq pushes electricity reform, prompting protests

18 Jan 2018   Iraq

Iraq’s 2018 budget is delayed – tangled in political arguments over funding for post-war reconstruction, the development of Basra province, and revenue-sharing with Kurdistan. Yet the country would have enough money to satisfy many demands of its haggling lawmakers, if only they could fix a problem that is mostly absent from their budget debates: the electricity sector.

Iraq Is Troubling The Oil Majors

18 Jan 2018   Iraq

The oil majors are heading in opposite directions when it comes to investing in oil in the war-torn country, a sign of how differently they view the relative risk. Chevron said on Tuesday that it would return to Iraqi Kurdistan in the north, and begin drilling again. The fact that Chevron is willing to roll the dice on Kurdistan suggests that tension between the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and Baghdad has somewhat subsided since the independence vote last year, which set off serious confrontation between the two sides. The campaign for independence backfired on the KRG — the Iraqi government sent in its military to reclaim the oil fields in and around Kirkuk, which the Kurds had seized after ISIS burst onto the scene in 2014. After Iraq took control over those fields, there was an interruption in oil exports through the Kurdish pipeline to Turkey, helping to push […]

Iraq, BP to sign deal to boost Kirkuk oil production capacity

18 Jan 2018   Iraq

Iraq aims to sign a deal with BP on Thursday to boost production capacity from the northern Kirkuk oilfields, which were taken back in October by Iraqi government forces, an Iraqi oil official said. Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi will attend the ceremony to sign the agreement at the offices of Iraqi state-run North Oil Company which operates the fields, he told Reuters.  Iraq had asked BP to boost Kirkuk’s output capacity to more than 700,000 barrels per day, more than twice existing capacity, days after Iraqi forces dislodged Kurdish fighters from the area.

Oil exports from the field, transported by pipeline to Turkey, came to a halt after the Iraqi military operation, which was in retaliation to an independence referendum held on Sept. 25 by the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).  Iraq plans to start trucking crude from Kirkuk to Iran at the end of the month. In October, Luaibi held talks with BP’s president for the Middle East region, Michael Townshend, on reactivating a deal signed in 2013 with the firm to help Baghdad halt a huge decline in output from Kirkuk. The KRG took control of the Kirkuk region in 2014, when the Iraqi army collapsed in the face of Islamic State’s sweeping advance in northern and western Iraq. The Kurdish move prevented the fields from falling into the hands of the militants.  Kirkuk is one of the biggest and oldest oilfields in the Middle East, still estimated to contain about 9 billion barrels of recoverable oil, according to BP.  BP has provided technical assistance in the past to the North Oil to aid the redevelopment of the Kirkuk field.

Moody’s: Oil is Iraq’s blessing and its curse

17 Jan 2018   Iraq

 Iraq is one of the few countries assessed where political risk is a real concern for an economy pegged heavily to the price for crude oil, Moody’s said Tuesday Moody’s Investors Service in an outlook published Tuesday on the economies of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia said the situation was relatively good, compared with the risks permeating out of the Arab Spring uprisings that started in Tunisia in December 2010 and spread through the region. Nearly a decade later, Moody’s said ongoing structural reforms, a gradual regional re-opening and planned reconstruction programs were driving general gains in gross domestic product for the region in 2019. “From among all the sovereigns we rate, Iraq is […]

Chevron To Resume Drilling In Kurdistan

17 Jan 2018   Iraq

Chevron expects to restart drilling in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region in Iraq and is taking steps to remobilize staff and equipment, The Wall Street Journal quoted a Chevron spokeswoman as saying on Tuesday, in what could be a sign that the Iraq-Kurdistan tensions may have eased. Following the Kurdistan region’s independence referendum and Iraq’s federal government backlash against Kurdistan, Chevron temporarily suspended drilling in the region in October 2017. Chevron has had operations in Kurdistan since 2012. The U.S. oil supermajor operates and holds an 80-percent stake in the Sarta production-sharing contract (PSC) and the Qara Dagh PSC. The two blocks cover a combined area of 279,000 net acres. According to Chevron’s website, the U.S. company completed a second exploration well in the Sarta block at the beginning of 2016 and was planning further evaluation of the block. Chevron “expects to restart our drilling operations at our Sarta 3 […]

Saudi Arabia deposits $2 billion in Yemen central bank to back currency

17 Jan 2018   Saudi Arabia, Yemen

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman ordered a deposit of $2 billion to be paid into Yemen’s central bank on Wednesday to shore up the weak Yemeni currency, the Saudi government said. The move was made a day after the Yemeni prime minister issued a public plea for funds to prop up the rial and help stave off hunger in the war-torn country. “It’s not a loan, it’s a deposit and the legitimate Yemeni government will not have to pay it back,” a source close to the Saudi government said. Yemen has been divided by nearly three years of civil war between the internationally recognized government, backed by Riyadh, based in the south, and the Iran-aligned Houthi movement which controls the north including the capital Sanaa. Its currency, the rial, has lost more than half its value against the U.S. dollar and soaring prices have put some basic […]

Sheen spreading from Chinese site of Iranian oil tanker sinking

17 Jan 2018   China, Iran

The oil slick spreading from the site of the sunken Iranian oil tanker Sanchi is getting bigger and moving north, Chinese maritime authorities said. The Chinese State Oceanic Administration said that, as of Monday, the slick was about 9 miles long extending southwest from the site off the coast of China and another 11 miles east of the site. Sheen in aerial photos published in Chinese media was patchy. The official Xinhua News Agency reported the main sheen was growing and prevailing winds and currents were pushing it north. The Sanchi was carrying about 1 million barrels of a light form of crude oil called condensate when it crashed into a Chinese freighter on Jan. […]

Russia will not support U.S. bid to change Iran nuclear deal: Lavrov

16 Jan 2018   Iran, Russia, USA

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday Moscow will not support attempts by Washington to modify the Iran nuclear deal. Lavrov spoke days after U.S. President Donald Trump said he would waive nuclear sanctions against Iran for the last time to give Washington and its European allies a chance to fix the “terrible flaws” of the 2015 nuclear deal. “We will not support what the United States is trying to do, changing the wording of the agreement, incorporating things that will be absolutely unacceptable for Iran,” Lavrov told a news conference in Moscow. Russia’s top diplomat, who stressed that Russia will work to preserve the existing Iran nuclear deal, also warned that the agreement’s collapse could be detrimental to dialogue with North Korea. “If the deal is put aside and Iran is told, ‘you keep up with your obligations or we will impose sanctions again’, […]

Shell Bids a Long Goodbye to Middle Eastern Oil

Royal Dutch Shell RDS.B 1.35% PLC is giving up on its last oil fields in Iraq, leaving the world’s second-biggest oil company with a dwindling footprint in the Middle East—a region it helped build into a petroleum powerhouse. Shell said Monday it is selling for an undisclosed amount a stake in the West Qurna 1 oil field in Iraq to Japan’s Itochu Corp. ITOCY 0.77% , the latest step in a gradual retreat from the region. The company is also expected to give up its holding in Iraq’s Majnoon oil field later this year, though it will retain its natural-gas interests in the country. Shell’s departure from Iraqi oil assets marks one of the final chapters in a slow pullback from the Middle East’s vast fields of petroleum. Shell pumped as much as 450,000 barrels of oil in […]

Saudis To Award Nuclear Power Contracts In December

16 Jan 2018   Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia expects to award the contracts for the construction of its first nuclear reactors in December this year, and will be picking bidders from the pool of U.S., China, France, South Korea, and Russia, a Saudi official working with the project told Bloomberg on Monday. Saudi Arabia has received requests from five bidders from those countries, said Abdulmalik Alsabery, a consultant in the business development department at King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy. Alsabery declined to name the companies on the short list. “By April we will sign a project development agreement with two to three selected vendors,” Bloomberg quoted Alsabery as saying. “We are going to have only one winner that will be building the two reactors,” he noted. Saudi Arabia expects construction on the facilities to begin in 2019, aiming for commissioning them in 2027, the official said. Each of the two reactors—in one […]

Burning Iranian oil tanker sinks after January 6 accident: Chinese state TV

15 Jan 2018   China, Iran, Water

An Iranian oil tanker has sunk after burning for more than a week following a collision on Jan. 6 in the East China Sea, Chinese state media said on Sunday, adding that large amounts of oil are burning in the surrounding waters. The stricken tanker, called the Sanchi (IMO:9356608), which had been adrift and on fire following the accident with the freighter CF Crystal, had “suddenly ignited” around noon (0400 GMT), China Central Television (CCTV) said. “Currently it has already sunk,” CCTV said, citing the Shanghai maritime search and rescue center. It showed video of a tower of billowing black smoke that it said reached as high as 1,000 meters, and flames on the surface of the water. The ship sank before 5 p.m. (0900 GMT), the broadcaster said. China’s State Oceanic Administration said that because the hull of the ship had detonated, a large amount […]

Saudi Prince Alwaleed in settlement talks with government: sources

15 Jan 2018   Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, detained for over two months in an anti-corruption crackdown, is negotiating a possible settlement with authorities but so far has not agreed on terms, a senior Saudi official said. Prince Alwaleed, whose net worth has been estimated by Forbes magazine at $17 billion, is chairman and owner of international investment firm Kingdom Holding 4280.SE, and one of the country’s most prominent businessmen. “He offered a certain figure but it doesn’t meet the figure required from him, and until today the attorney-general hasn’t approved it,” the official said on condition of anonymity under government briefing rules. A second source familiar with Prince Alwaleed’s case told Reuters on Saturday that the price had offered to make a “donation” to the Saudi government, which would avoid any admission of wrongdoing, and to do so from assets of his own choosing. The government […]

U.S. ultimatum on nuclear deal, new sanctions draw Iran threat

15 Jan 2018   Iran, USA

Iran said on Saturday it would retaliate against new sanctions imposed by the United States after President Donald Trump set an ultimatum to fix “disastrous flaws” in a deal curbing Tehran’s nuclear program. Trump said on Friday he would waive nuclear sanctions on Iran for the last time to give the United States and European allies a final chance to amend the pact. Washington also imposed sanctions on the head of Iran’s judiciary and others. Russia – one of the parties to the Iran pact alongside the United States, China, France, Britain, Germany and the European Union – called Trump’s comments “extremely negative.” The ultimatum puts pressure on Europeans, key backers of the 2015 nuclear deal, to satisfy Trump, who wants the pact strengthened with a separate agreement within 120 days. While approving the waiver on U.S. sanctions related to the nuclear deal, Washington announced other […]

Saudi Arabia aims to prequalify firms by April or May for first nuclear plant

15 Jan 2018   Nuclear, Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia plans to prequalify for bidding firms from two or three countries by April or May for the first nuclear reactors it wants to build, a consultant for the government body working on the nuclear plans said on Monday. Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, wants nuclear power to diversify its energy supply mix, enabling it to export more crude rather than burning it to generate electricity. It plans to build 17.6 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear capacity by 2032, the equivalent of around 16 reactors, making it one of the biggest prospects for an industry struggling after the 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan. “Currently we are in the evaluation process for RFI (request for information) and we will hold discussions with them (suppliers) next month,” Abdul Malik al-Sabery, a consultant at the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy told reporters in […]

Oil Spill on Fire Off China Seen Damaging Less Than Exxon Valdez

15 Jan 2018   China, Iran, Water

Sanchi oil spill covers 4 square miles and is still burning Authorities collecting data from spill area to assess impact The oil tanker on fire after a collision on Jan. 7. Authorities were trying to assess the environmental impact of oil that’s on fire in the East China Sea after an Iranian tanker sank and caused a spill that covered about 4 square miles. The Sanchi was carrying 1 million barrels of condensate, a highly flammable type of light oil, with most of that supply seen burning off rather than slicking the water. While the cargo is four times larger than the heavier crude the Exxon Valdez spilled off Alaska in 1989 — affecting about 1,300 miles of shoreline and destroying thousands of marine fauna — the blaze off China’s coast may help minimize environmental damage. The Iranian ship sank on Sunday following a blaze after the tanker collided […]

Iraq nears oil output capacity of 5 million bpd, says committed to OPEC cuts

13 Jan 2018   Iraq

Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi said on Saturday that the OPEC member’s oil output capacity is near reaching 5 million barrels per day, but the country will remain in full compliance with its output target under a global pact to cut supplies. Luaibi, who was speaking at an industry conference in Abu Dhabi, also said that his ministry plans to conclude three contracts with international gas companies by mid-2018 to utilize gas from the south of the country. He said that by 2021, the country plans to “reach zero gas flaring”. Iraq is forced to flare some of the gas produced alongside crude oil as it lacks the facilities needed to capture and process it into usable fuel.

U.S. Extends Iran Nuclear Deal, Issues Sanctions

13 Jan 2018   Iran, USA

The Trump administration extended sanctions relief under the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, keeping the deal intact for at least another several months, but said it would issue no more such waivers as it negotiates a modified deal with European allies. The U.S. Treasury at the same time on Friday imposed new punitive actions not directly related to the nuclear deal. The measures are meant to pressure Tehran over ongoing missile tests and a recent crackdown on Iranian protesters. The head of Iran’s judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, is named on the sanctions lists, as is a Chinese network accused of helping Iran procure weapons. The Iranian mission at the United Nations didn’t immediately respond to a quest for comment. Iranian Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif, center right, met […]

Trump Stops Short of Reimposing Iran Sanctions but Sets Deadline to Overhaul Deal

13 Jan 2018   Iran, USA

WASHINGTON — President Trump again stopped short of reimposing punitive sanctions on Iran that could break up its nuclear deal with world powers, the White House said on Friday. But Mr. Trump gave European allies only 120 days to agree to an overhaul of the deal or administration officials said he would pull the United States out of it. He also approved sanctions against the head of Iran’s judiciary, Sadeq Larijani, a powerful figure whom the administration holds culpable for the violent crackdown on recent antigovernment protests. Mr. Larijani is the most prominent of several Iranian officials and entities blacklisted, a roster of 14 individuals and entities that also includes the cyber unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the United States said has repressed social media networks that protesters can use to share information. Mr. Trump’s action, which was widely expected, is the third time he has […]

Iran Awaits Trump Verdict on Oil Sanctions Deal: What’s at Stake

12 Jan 2018   Iran, USA

Waivers of U.S. sanctions targeting oil exports up for renewal Trump’s scorn for Iran nuclear deal damping energy investment World oil markets are about to get a clearer idea of what Donald Trump’s presidency means for one of the biggest crude exporters, Iran. The U.S. president plans on sticking with an agreement that suspends American sanctions on Iran in return for limiting its nuclear research, according to two administration officials familiar with the matter. Even so, protests by Iranians against economic mismanagement by their leaders have only toughened Trump’s stance against Tehran. His well-known disdain for the nuclear deal is already deterring investors from the country, the third-biggest in OPEC. Of the Western energy majors, only France’s Total SA has returned, and it’s proceeding slowly. As global markets await Trump’s final decision, here’s what’s at stake for the oil world. What’s being decided? Trump is required by law to […]

Oil price rally extended on Iranian sanctions jitters

12 Jan 2018   Iran, Prices

Jitters ahead of President Trump’s decision on oil-related sanctions for Iran and high global demand pushed oil prices ever close to $70 per barrel on Thursday. Crude oil prices are up nearly 4 percent in the span of seven trading days in one of the commodity’s sharpest rallies in years. Prices were expected to cool off after jumping in mid-December when the Forties pipeline system, which carries about 40 percent of total North Sea oil production, was shut down. The line came back on stream over the New Year holiday weekend, but 2018 started with political unrest in Iran, one of the leading […]

Trump scrapping Iran deal will cause gas, oil price spikes

12 Jan 2018   Iran, Prices

Gas prices might get to $3 per gallon and the current rally in oil prices will kick into overdrive if Trump denies a waiver on Iranian sanctions, experts said. U.S. President Donald Trump decides Friday whether or not to waive oil-related sanctions for Iran, according to the terms of the U.N.-backed agreement that extended relief to Iran in exchange for commitments to scale back its nuclear research program. Such a decision would jeopardize the nuclear arrangement, supported by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany. Under the multilateral nuclear deal, formally the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the president decides whether to go against the […]

Oil Extends Gains Ahead of Trump Iran Decision

12 Jan 2018   Iran

Oil prices hit a fresh three-year high on Thursday ahead of a U.S. decision on whether to extend temporary waivers on sanctions against Iran . Light, sweet crude for February delivery settled up 23 cents, or 0.4%, to $63.80 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest close since December 2014. Brent, the global benchmark, gained 6 cents, or 0.1%, to $69.26 a barrel, and prices briefly crossed $70 in intraday trading before paring gains. U.S. President Donald Trump is set to review whether to waive or reimpose sanctions on Iran this week, a decision that has implications on Iran’s oil exports. “It will be very important for the oil market to see what he does with Iran considering that in the past sanctions regime a large portion of exports was disrupted,” said Giovanni Staunovo, commodity analyst at UBS Wealth Management. The review comes after Iran has […]

Saudis Shortlist New York, London, Hong Kong For Aramco IPO

12 Jan 2018   Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has shortlisted New York, London, and Hong Kong for the initial public offering of its oil giant Aramco, with the three exchanges considered either singly or a combination of two of them, or even all three, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing two sources familiar with the latest developments. Picking those three potential venues, plus the domestic Saudi stock exchange, means that Toronto, Tokyo, and Singapore are no longer in the running for hosting what is expected to be the largest IPO in history. Saudi Arabia still plans to have Aramco listed in late 2018, according to Reuters’ sources. The final decision will be made by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who is in charge of supervising Saudi Arabia’s oil and economic policies, the sources added. One of the sources told Reuters that talks involved listing Aramco at least on two of the three shortlisted foreign exchanges. […]

Trump to extend Iran sanctions relief, keeping nuclear deal intact: source

12 Jan 2018   Iran, USA

U.S. President Donald Trump will extend sanctions relief granted to Iran under its 2015 nuclear deal with the United States and other world powers, leaving the accord intact for now, according to a person familiar with the decision. However, Trump, who has vowed to scrap the pact, was expected to give the U.S. Congress and European allies a deadline for improving it, the person said. Without improvements, Trump would renew his threat to withdraw from the agreement. Trump had faced a Friday deadline to decide on whether to waive the sanctions. A decision to withhold a waiver would have effectively ended the deal that put limits on Iran’s nuclear program. The White House is expected to announce the decision on Friday. While Trump approved a sanctions waiver, he also decided to impose new, targeted sanctions on Iran, the person said.

Iraq says 26 companies allowed to bid for oil, gas blocks in border areas

12 Jan 2018   Iraq

The Iraqi oil ministry said on Friday 26 companies have qualified to bid for oil and gas blocks in border areas. Five companies qualified recently to take part in the bidding round, alongside 21 others already selected, the ministry said in a statement. In November Iraq invited foreign companies to bid for contracts to explore and develop oil and natural gas reserves in nine new blocks as the OPEC nation seeks to boost its output capacity. The bidding terms will be finalized by the end of May and the ceremony to open the bids will be held on June 21.

Iranian Oil Tanker Explodes, Could Continue To Burn For A Month

11 Jan 2018   Iran

An Iranian tanker carrying condensate that collided with a Chinese freight ship on Saturday is still burning and could burn for a month, the South Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said, as quoted by Reuters. There were fears the tanker could explode, making it even harder to clean up any spilled condensate and find the missing members of the tanker’s crew: one body was found on Monday, but 31 crew members remain missing. Around noon GMT, Reuters reported that an explosion had indeed occurred aboard the tanker, which forced the rescue crews trying to extinguish the fire to pull away. The explosion followed an attempt to use foam to extinguish the fire. An earlier Reuters report relayed worries on the part of the Korean authorities about the possibility of a bunker fuel spill in case the tanker explodes or sinks. Otherwise, they estimate the vessel could continue burning […]

Shell Sells Stake In Iraqi Oil Field To Japan’s Itochu

11 Jan 2018   Iraq, Japan

Royal Dutch Shell has sold its 20-percent stake in Iraq’s West Qurna-1 oil field to Japan’s Itochu Corporation, and Iraq has approved the transaction, a senior Iraqi oil official told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday. “Shell sold its stake in West Qurna 1 to Itochu and the oil ministry approved it. We met with Itochu and discussed the required financial investments and operations at the field,” Ihsan Abdul Jabbar, the head of Iraq’s state-run Basra Oil Company (BOC), told Reuters. The operator and lead contractor at the West Qurna-1 oil field is ExxonMobil, which had agreed in 2010 to rehabilitate the field together with its co-venturers the Oil Exploration Company of Iraq and Shell’s affiliate, Shell West Qurna BV. In September last year, Shell said that it was in the process of selling its stake in West Qurna-1. Shell has also said that it wants out of the […]

Trump urged by top advisers to waive Iran sanctions: official

11 Jan 2018   Iran, USA

Donald Trump is being urged by some top advisers not to bring back U.S. economic sanctions on Iran this week, a move by the president that would effectively end a 2015 deal to limit Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. A senior administration official told Reuters on Wednesday that Trump’s top advisers were recommending that he not reimpose sanctions on Iran that were lifted under the agreement between Iran, the United States and other world powers. But Trump, who has previously vowed to scrap the nuclear pact, is privately expressing reluctance to heed the advisers, the official said. The U.S. Congress requires the president to decide periodically whether to certify Iran’s compliance with the deal and issue a waiver to allow U.S sanctions on Iran to remain suspended. The next deadline is Friday. Trump will seek to make a final decision on the sanctions during a meeting with national […]

Mohammed bin Salman’s Next Saudi Challenge: Curtailing Ultraconservative Islam

10 Jan 2018   Saudi Arabia

Arwa Alneami wanted to be an artist ever since she was a child. But growing up in the conservative region of Asir, she was constrained by a rigid strain of Sunni Islam that has long defined life in Saudi Arabia and the kingdom’s image to the outside world. When she drew a bird, Ms. Alneami recalls, teachers would scold her and cross off its head, saying only God can create life. Now that religious control is coming under its sharpest challenge in modern times. Saudi leaders, spurred by the need to diversify the oil-dependent economy, are moving faster than any of their predecessors to unravel the legacy of Islamic conservatism that had taken hold of the country four decades ago and shaped the education of generations. Spearheading […]

Oil Ministry rebuffs Parliament order against KAR

10 Jan 2018   Iraq

Despite a non-binding Parliament vote, the ministry indicated it will take a practical approach to continue working with the Iraqi Kurdish company enmeshed in northern Iraq’s oil sector. Acting Kirkuk Gov. Rakan Saed al-Jabouri meets with Deputy Oil Minister Karim Hattab and Director General of North Oil Company Farid al-Jadir on Jan. 8, 2018. (Source: Kirkuk governor’s office) The Oil Ministry is downplaying a non-binding Parliament directive that seeks to bar the Iraqi government from working with the Kurdish company KAR Group – a sign that the order will not have immediate impact on government policy. “The ministry respects the decision that the Parliament has made,” the ministry’s media office said in a statement on Tuesday. “It also hopes that all sides can present realistic solutions for the problems and the crises… as opposed to those that might create other crises and problems that we want to avoid.” This […]

Shadows picked up by satellites suggest Saudi Arabia underreported its oil stores last year

10 Jan 2018   Saudi Arabia

Satellite imagery of two of Saudi Arabia’s largest oil refineries suggests the kingdom may have underreported its oil stores in the first half of 2017. Satellite images gathered by the tech startup Bird.i suggest the level of crude oil held in two major Saudi refineries, Ras Tanura and Yanbu, increased last year from January to June. The kingdom’s official figures show supplies as having declined amid a commitment to reduce supply in the face of low prices. Bird.i collects and analyzes satellite, drone, and airborne images from numerous sources, some of which are captured in monochrome and some in full color. The technology allows the fullness of oil tanks to be estimated according to the shadows cast by tanks’ floating roofs: More shadow suggests the roof and […]

Iraq calls for swift refinery implementation

9 Jan 2018   Iraq

Iraqi oil ministry said a Maysan oil refinery contract should be executed within the next 30 days. File photo by Oskari Porkka/Shutterstock Jan. 8 (UPI) — The implementation of an oil refinery project designed for 150,000 barrels of oil per day should start in the next 30 days, the Iraqi oil ministry said. Iraqi Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luaibi said the execution of a refinery project in eastern Maysan project should start within the next 30 days, according to a pledge made to the government. According to Luabi’s ministry, if the contract isn’t implemented in time, it would be cancelled. According to the strategic plans laid out by the ministry, the Maysan refinery would handle 150,000 bpd and raise the production of all oil products for Iraq. “It is worthy to say that the ministry of oil presented many projects of building refineries to be invested by the global companies […]

Iraq Bans Kurdish Firm From Operating Kirkuk Oil Fields

9 Jan 2018   Iraq

After Iraq’s federal forces recaptured the oil fields in Kirkuk in October, the Iraqi Parliament voted on Monday to ban Kurdish engineering company Kar Group from operating Kirkuk’s oil fields. Baghdad—which never recognized the legitimacy of the Kurdistan region’s referendum at end-September—moved in October to take control over the oil-rich area around Kirkuk. In mid-October, Iraqi government forces seized the oil fields around Kirkuk, which had been under Kurdish control since 2014. The military maneuver knocked some 350,000 bpd of crude oil production offline, and led to oil prices spiking on concerns of unstable supply from the region. The Iraq-Kurdistan conflict was the first of a series of geopolitical events in the Middle East (the other being the Saudi purge) that pushed Brent oil prices above $60 a barrel toward the end of October. Now Iraqi lawmakers say that Kar Group is refusing to collaborate with Iraqi state-held North […]

Goldman Sachs And Citi To Lead Saudi Aramco IPO

9 Jan 2018   Saudi Arabia

U.S. investment banking giants Goldman Sachs and Citi are lined up to lead the initial public offering (IPO) of part of Saudi Aramco, according to reports. The Saudi state-owned oil producer plans to list this year in what is expected to be one of the largest share offerings ever, if Aramco’s target valuation of $2 trillion (£1.5 trillion) is achieved. The two banks will be joined on the mega-deal by JP Morgan, HSBC and Morgan Stanley in global coordinator roles, with the mandates potentially finalised at some point this week, according to Bloomberg . The appointment of advisors would mark an important step before the float, after Aramco officials were forced to reiterate their plans for a 2018 listing at the end of last year. A decision also remains to be made on the listing venue for the IPO, with London and New York thought to be among the […]

Iraq Bans Kurdish Firm Kar Group From Operating Kirkuk Oilfields

9 Jan 2018   Iraq

Iraq’s parliament voted on Monday to ban Kurdish engineering firm Kar Group from operating Kirkuk’s oilfields, following Iraq’s recapture of the Kurdish-held oil region in October. The Kurds have withdrawn from most Kirkuk oilfields since October but the vote came after lawmakers said the Kar Group refused to cooperate with Iraq’s state-run North Oil Co. (NOC) and hand back the Khurmala oilfield. The Kurds claim Khurmala is located inside the official boundaries of the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government KRG. Kar Group could not be immediately reached for comment.

Parliament also authorised NOC to take over production and export operations at the field. That will potentially increase Iraq’s oil production and crude exports, although it was unclear by how much. In addition, parliament requested the Iraqi central bank to track down cash deposited at banks outside Iraq that had been generated from Kurdish oil exports. It asked the central bank to draft a detailed report on the names of banks used to deposit the cash.

Iraqi government forces captured the Kurdish-held oil city of Kirkuk on Oct. 16 last year, and took over the northern region’s oilfields, in retaliation for a Kurdish referendum on independence which was widely opposed by Turkey, Iran and Western powers. The move to ban Kar Group follows financial restrictions imposed by Baghdad in retaliation for the Kurdish referendum, including a ban on direct international flights to and from the Kurdish region and closing the border crossings. Kirkuk crude sales have been halted since Iraqi forces took back control of the fields in October. Kar Group had been operating some of the Kirkuk oilfields since Kurdish forces took control of the city in 2014, when the Iraqi army collapsed in the face of Islamic State.

Parliament votes to oust KAR from Kirkuk

9 Jan 2018   Iraq

The non-binding directive against the Iraqi Kurdish oil firm KAR Group further weakens the prospect of renewed Baghdad-Erbil oil cooperation. Iraqi security forces at the Bai Hassan oil field on Oct. 19, 2017. (STAFF/Iraq Oil Report) BAGHDAD – Iraq’s Parliament issued a non-binding directive Monday to prevent the Kurdish company KAR Group from continuing any work in Kirkuk oil fields. The measure does not legally require the government to take any action, but it passed with broad support, indicating a political climate in Baghdad that remains hostile to the prospect of reconciliation with the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). This content is for registered users. Please login to continue. If you are not a registered user, you may purchase a subscription or sign up for a free trial .

Iran Sanctions Will Help China’s Petro-Yuan

9 Jan 2018   China, Iran

In a few days, U.S. President Trump may try to re-impose sanctions on Iran , a dramatic step that could heighten tensions between the two countries. Some analysts believe the move could contribute to a much broader global economic power shift from the U.S. to China. The connection between the issues may not be obvious at first glance, but by seeking to isolate Iran from the international market, Iran could look elsewhere. Because the global oil trade is conducted in greenbacks, the U.S Treasury was able to restrict Iran’s ability to access the global financial system in the past. That made it extremely difficult for Iran to sell its oil prior to the thaw in relations in 2015, which kept millions of barrels of daily oil production on the sidelines. This time around, however, the U.S. will likely go it alone. The Trump administration won’t have the backing of […]

Iraq to export Kirkuk oil to Iran before end-January: Iraqi oil minister

8 Jan 2018   Iran, Iraq

Iraq will start exporting oil from the northern Kirkuk fields to Iran before the end of January, Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi told reporters on Sunday in Baghdad. About 30,000 barrels per day of crude will be trucked to Iran’s Kermanshah refinery in the first instance, he said. ‘‘God willing, we will start before the end of the month,‘’ he added. Trucking crude to Iran comes under a swap agreement announced last month by the two countries to allow a resumption of oil exports from Kirkuk. Iraq and Iran have agreed to swap up to 60,000 barrels per day of crude produced from Kirkuk for Iranian oil to be delivered to southern Iraq, Luaibi said last month. Kirkuk crude sales have been halted since Iraqi forces took back control of the fields from the Kurds in October. Kurdish forces took control of Kirkuk in 2014, when […]

US to discuss Iran sanctions waiver; Iranian oil tanker ablaze after collision with Chinese vessel

8 Jan 2018   China, Iran

All eyes will be on developments in Iran this week, with the US set to decide January 12 whether to issue a waiver suspending sanctions. Street protests have yet to impact oil flows, and the key producer has doubled oil exports since the Iran nuclear deal was implemented two years ago. Its near-term outlook is now uncertain. Meanwhile, more details are expected to emerge after a collision between an Iranian oil tanker and a Chinese vessel over the weekend. The oil tanker caught fire and is reportedly leaking oil off the coast of China. It remains unclear how much oil was spilled and if there will be a disruption in shipping movements in that area. The market will also be paying close attention to a condensate tender from Qatar this week as tightening Middle East ultra-light crude supply could keep price differentials supported this year. […]

Iraqi Oil Exports Grow On Strong Asian Demand

6 Jan 2018   Iraq

It is both the best and worst of times for the current Iraqi oil market. Iraqi oil minister Jabbar al-Luaibi said this week that Iraqi oil fields in the south of the country had recorded an ‘unprecedented’ surge in daily exports from Basrah during the last month. All the while, loadings in Ceyhan, Turkey, of crude from the Kirkuk pipeline in the north of the country continue to remain in check amid regional unrest. December monthly loadings from Basrah were strong, although not unprecedented, according to our vessel-tracking, vessel lineups and port agent data – reaching their highest monthly level in 2017. While loadings bound for the U.S. hovered around half a million barrels per day for a second month, the most interesting development came from those flows heading east of Suez. East Asia has traditionally been the largest market for southern Iraqi crude barrels, with China leading the […]

Saudis Slash Oil Price To Save U.S. Market Share

6 Jan 2018   Saudi Arabia

Saudi Aramco has cut the price of Arab Light for the U.S. market further for February despite shipping record-low amounts to its biggest customer. U.S. refiners will receive Arab Light for US$0.10 less a barrel, at just US$0.90 above the benchmark for the Gulf Coast. This is the second monthly price cut of Saudi oil for the United States. In comparison, last month the Saudis said they would raise the official selling prices (OSPs) for Asian customers for January, on the back of a stronger Dubai benchmark and solid demand, generally in line with traders’ expectations. Saudi exports to the U.S. have been falling more or less steadily since August 2016, hitting a low of 415,000 bpd in the week to October 27, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. The reduction is part of the Kingdom’s efforts to help reduce global supply to a level that would […]

U.S. Firms Interested In Boosting Oil, Gas Presence In Iraq

5 Jan 2018   Iraq, USA

U.S. companies are eager to strengthen bilateral cooperation with Iraq in all industry sectors, especially in oil and gas, the Iraqi Ministry of Oil said on Thursday after U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Douglas Silliman, met with Iraq Oil Minister Jabbar Al-Luiebi. Al-Luiebi invited U.S. companies to take part in tenders called by the Iraqi oil ministry, and said that Iraq was preparing more favorable work conditions for foreign companies investing and doing business in Iraq. The two U.S. supermajors, ExxonMobil and Chevron, already have operations in parts of Iraq. Exxon signed an agreement in 2010 with Iraq’s South Oil Company to redevelop and rehabilitate the West Qurna I oil field in southern Iraq. In 2013, Exxon signed agreements with PetroChina and Pertamina for participating interest in the West Qurna I project. In October 2011, Exxon signed six Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs) covering more than 848,000 acres in the Kurdistan […]

KRG exports tick up in December

5 Jan 2018   Iraq

Kurdistan’s fourth-quarter exports plummeted after Baghdad’s takeover of Kirkuk-area fields, but independent oil sales have risen modestly due to recent production increases. Oil tanks at Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, which is run by state-owned Petroleum Pipeline Corporation (BOTAS). (UMIT BEKTAS/Reuters) Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region averaged slightly more than 304,000 barrels per day (bpd) of independent oil exports from Turkey’s Ceyhan port in December, an eight percent increase over November. Slight production upticks in a handful of fields accounted for the rising exports. This content is for registered users. Please login to continue. If you are not a registered user, you may purchase a subscription or sign up for a free trial .

Iranian unrest not yet impacting oil production

4 Jan 2018   Iran, Oil Supply

At this point, the oil market has factored in any risk from the political unrest gripping Iran, one of OPEC’s top producers, analysts said. More than a dozen people were reported dead in Iran after demonstrations against the rising cost of living boiled over to political unrest during the weekend. According to state broadcaster Press TV, the country’s Interior Ministry said the situation by Tuesday was starting to return to normal after President Hassan Rouhani acknowledged some of their concerns. The difference between supply and demand on the global market for oil is narrowing, leaving markets with little room to accommodate unrest in one of the strongest producers in the Organization of […]

Iranian Crisis Could Send Oil To $100

3 Jan 2018   Iran, Prices

Oil prices started the year on a high note as some geopolitical tension pushed aside bearish concerns. Both WTI and Brent opened above $60 per barrel for the first time in years. The protests in Iran were the main driver of the bullish sentiment in the oil market. Anti-government demonstrations swept across the country in recent days, and unlike the widespread protests in 2009, the current rallies are related to economic woes and are also taking place in more cities than just Tehran. “Growing unrest in Iran set the table for a bullish start to 2018,” the Schork Report said in a note to clients on January 2. At least 14 people have been killed in the protests and an estimated 450 have been arrested. It is the most serious challenge to the Iranian government in years, and Iran’s Supreme Leader put the blame on foreign agents, presumably the […]

Hard-Liners and Reformers Tapped Iranians’ Ire. Now, Both Are Protest Targets.

3 Jan 2018   Iran

Antigovernment protests roiled Iran on Tuesday, as the death toll rose to 21 and the nation’s supreme leader blamed foreign enemies for the unrest. But the protests that have spread to dozens of Iranian cities in the past six days were set off by miscalculations in a long-simmering power struggle between hard-liners and reformers.  By Tuesday, Iran’s leaders could no longer ignore the demonstrations and felt compelled to respond publicly. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, blamed outside “enemies” but did not specify who. President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate, appealed for calm while saying the protesters had a right to be heard.  But the anger behind the protests was directed against the entire political establishment.

While the protests that swept Iran in 2009 were led by the urban middle class, these protests have been largely driven by disaffected young people in rural areas, towns and small cities who have seized an opening to vent their frustrations with a political elite they say has hijacked the economy to serve its own interests.  Unemployment for young people — half the population — runs at 40 percent, analysts believe. Meanwhile, Iran has spent billions of dollars abroad in recent years to extend its influence in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.  The initial catalyst for the anger appears to have been the leak by President Rouhani last month of a proposed government budget. For the first time, secret parts of the budget, including details of the country’s religious institutes, were exposed.