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11. May 2023 18:04
PUK Media's hilariously cynical coverage of the Barzani National Memorial ceremony
PUK-affiliated media outlets have barely covered the Barzani National Memorial, which comes as no surprise considering the increasingly dire state of affairs between them and the KDP. However, there's one exception to the rule.
PUK Media, the party's official mouthpiece, did post an article later in the day, stating that events and commemorations provide 'political opportunities for peace'. They took an interesting angle.
And by 'angle', we mean camera angle. Have a look for yourself.
Size does matter
The article featured pictures from the memorial and the fifth anniversary of Jalal Talabani's death last year, placed right beside an equivalent image of the crowd at today's ceremony.
The comparison of the pictures, where Iraq's leaders and foreign representatives were present, shows a larger group of people commemorating the party's charismatic founder and Iraq's former President Jalal Talabani than those commemorating the KDP's founder, Mustafa Barzani.
In yet another display of the ruthlessly competitive nature of the KDP-PUK rivalry, PUK Media somehow managed to make the Barzani National Memorial story about them.
As you can see, the competition even extends to the size of the crowds each party can gather.
And gets worse for the PUK. As photos shared by Kurdistan24 show, PUK Media appears to have selected the photo of today's event strategically. Other photos show crowds are a lot bigger at the Barzan event than apparent in the PUK Media comparison:
ShaMaran Petroleum Puts Kurdistan Development Activities on Hold for Remainder of the Year
As we report on the first quarter results of the International Oil Companies (IOCs), here's another update from yesterday:
ShaMaran has also reported disruption to its plans due to the oil export shutdown. Adel Chaouch, the company's CEO, says, "The interruption to pipeline exports at the end of the quarter means that our plans to hook up the new wells and continue our development activities for the remainder of the year are currently on hold, alongside the guidance for the rest of 2023."He adds, "We hope for a swift resumption of production and exports, as well as a resolution of the payments situation, so that we can get back to delivering strong results and increasing value for all of our stakeholders.”
The company disclosed that it experienced "material impact on operations and financial results linked to external events:
On February 6, 2023, the Iraq-Turkey pipeline (“ITP”) temporarily suspended exports for one day following an earthquake in southern Turkey; and
On March 25, 2023, officials from the Turkish Government ordered the ITP to be shutdown for Kurdish oil exports. The Company is aware that discussions for the re-opening of the ITP to Kurdistan oil exports are continuing among the relevant parties.
"Payments have been received to date for oil sales through to September 2022, for both Atrush and Sarsang, with $37.1 million being received in the quarter. The Company (together with other International Oil Companies (“IOCs”)) remains in discussions with the KRG about the appropriate recovery mechanism for the overdue receivables, however in line with precedents full recovery is expected."
11. May 2023 16:36
Here is what ShaMaran Petroleum says on the impact of the oil export suspension from the Kurdistan Region:
Following the closure of the Iraq-Turkey Pipeline (ITP) for Kurdistan oil exports, our operating partners are significantly deferring planned capital expenditures to focus on only safety critical and firm contractual commitments, which are expected to result in a significant reduction of monthly cash outflows for the business in the second quarter. This is expected to be a temporary measure until the resumption of pipeline exports and field operations and importantly, regular payments for oil sales and repayment of receivables due to IOCs;
Based upon the public statements of officials from the KRG, the Kurdistan Ministry of Natural Resources and Iraq’s Ministry of Oil and discussions that senior management of the Company has had with relevant officials, the Company continues to believe that the ITP shutdown will be temporary and that the KRG will be permitted to resume exports and payments. Together with our partners in the Atrush block and Sarsang block the Company is prudently taking actions to preserve liquidity through significant reduction of expenditures across the business;
Capex is planned to be cut by over 50% of the original budget by both operators until production and payments are resumed; and
Due to such reduction in activity levels until ITP exports and field operations resume the Company is suspending the guidance provided for FY 2023. The Company continues to closely monitor the situation and will update the market as appropriate.
Dozens of contract teachers gathered in Sulaimaniyah to demand permanent positions.
Protests like these have become common across the Kurdistan Region, as thousands of contract-based teachers seek full employment. Today's gathering took place in front of Sulaymaniyah's General Education Directorate.
According to data provided by Diler Abdukhaliq, a Change Movement (Gorran) MP in the Kurdistan Parliament, there are over 35,000 contract-based teachers. These teachers have been demanding full employment for years, but their demands are still being discussed at the KRG's Finance Ministry.
Abdukhaliq stated yesterday that a joint committee has been formed with the Education Ministry to "study" these demands.Earlier this month, Karoukh Abdulla, a representative of the protestors, said the joint committee has been collecting data on the teachers' education levels and determining the funding required to hire them permanently.
He added that once the committee's work is completed, their recommendations would be sent to the KRG for consideration.Both the Kurdistan Region and Iraq face a shortage of teachers, particularly in primary education.Baghdad has started hiring thousands of contract-based teachers throughout the country, prompting teachers in the Kurdistan Region to demand the same.
11. May 2023 16:02
Iraqi Kurdistan Shuts Syria Border
The Semalka border between the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) and the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) has reportedly been shut by authorities in Erbil, according to the North Press Agency, a media outlet affiliated with the AANES.
The border closure was allegedly due to AANES authorities blocking the Kurdish National Council (KNC/ENKS), a Barzani-backed coalition in Syria, from crossing the border to participate in the Barzani National Memorial.
Issues between the authorities in the KRI and AANES can be viewed as part of a broader political and ideological conflict between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Recently, a PKK member was detained at Erbil International Airport, with the city’s residence directorate confirming that she was wanted by Iraq’s security services and will be turned over to them.
The Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), which is the umbrella organization for the PKK and its affiliated parties, had previously released a statement accusing the KDP’s intelligence services (Parastin) of “kidnapping” Azime Arsun and potentially handing her over to Turkey’s intelligence services (MIT).
Relations between the KDP and the PKK have recently deteriorated further than usual.
The KCK Foreign Relations Committee blamed the attempted drone attack against the General Commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Mazloum Abdi, in Sulaymaniyah on the KDP and Turkey, in a strongly worded statement.
11. May 2023 15:43
In the quarter ending March 31, DNO, the Norwegian oil and gas operator, reported a net production of 70,900 barrels of oil per day (bopd) in the Kurdistan Region. However, it is expected that the production figures will be significantly lower in the second quarter due to a shutdown that occurred just before the end of the first quarter.
DNO said it has scaled back spending in the Kurdistan Region, including drilling, citing "uncertain timing of export resumption and, importantly, of payments by the Kurdistan Regional Government for previous oil sales."
DNO, with interests of 64% in Baeshiqa and 75% in Tawke, said that "until export restarts and regularity of payment for past and ongoing oil sales is established," it cannot provide any projection of full-year Kurdistan production.
DNO reports a revenue of $269 million and operating profit of $155 million in the first quarter of 2023.
The company says, "while the first quarter 2023 figures were solid with net profit doubling from the previous quarter to USD 87 million, the quarter was also marked by the shutdown of oil production in the Kurdistan region of Iraq for export through Turkey to international markets commencing 25 March 2023."
11. May 2023 15:40
Full statement from Genel:
Paul Weir, Chief Executive of Genel, said: “The prolonged closure of the Iraq-Turkey pipeline is very disappointing and, although there continues to be speculation regarding the timing of resumption of exports, we cannot predict with any certainty when exports will recommence. In anticipation of exports resuming we are seeking clarity on future arrangements and a mechanism in place for regular and predictable payments going forward.
Delays in payments and the suspension of exports have resulted in significant cash generation being deferred and we are scaling back our planned activity accordingly. We continue to reduce costs so that the size and shape of the organisation matches the needs of the business.
Our financial position is robust, and we remain focused on using our significant liquidity to add new assets to the portfolio that will fund the long-term payment of our established dividend.” Q1 2023 • Zero lost time incidents in 2023, with over four million hours worked since the last incident • Net production of 26,000 bopd in Q1 2023 (30,520 bopd in Q1 2022) • Pending approval at the AGM today, a dividend distribution of 12¢ (9.6588 pence) per share will be paid on 19 May 2023 • $61 million of cash proceeds were received from the Kurdistan Regional Government (‘KRG’) in Q1 2023, relating to August and September 2022 • Capital expenditure of $24 million in Q1 2023, of which $21 million was cost recoverable spend at Tawke and Taq Taq • Cash of $496 million at 31 March 2023 ($495 million at 31 December 2022) • Net cash under IFRS of $229 million at 31 March 2023 ($228 million at 31 December 2022) - Total debt of $274 million at 31 March 2023 ($274 million at 31 December 2022)
2023 OUTLOOK AND GUIDANCE • Due to the closure of the Iraq-Turkey Pipeline on 25 March 2023 and resulting impact on production, Genel’s production guidance of 27-29,000 bopd is no longer valid. New guidance will be issued once the pipeline reopens and investment plans are confirmed • Genel now expects capital expenditure to be below $100 million (previous guidance $100-125 million) • Payments totalling $80 million are outstanding relating to production from October 2022 to January 2023, with $110 million of total sales invoices submitted up to and including March 2023
PRODUCTION BUSINESS • Tawke PSC (25% working interest) - Gross production averaged 93,880 bopd in Q1 2023 (106,470 bopd in Q1 2022), due to planned well intervention operations temporarily constraining overall production - Given the uncertain timing of export resumption and the delays in payments, spend at the Tawke licence has been scaled back, with the number of active rigs to drop from four at the start of 2023 to none in H2 2023 - Five wells were completed and another three wells spudded in Q1 2023, with Tawke licence drilling to end in May • Sarta (30% working interest and operator) - Gross production averaged 3,160 bopd in Q1 2023 (5,590 bopd in Q1 2022) - As previously stated, Genel’s focus is on making ongoing production from Sarta profitable • Taq Taq PSC (44% working interest and joint operator) - Gross production averaged 3,610 bopd in Q1 2023 (5,070 bopd in Q1 2022) - Taq Taq continues to produce into storage, with around one week of storage capacity remaining
PRE-PRODUCTION BUSINESS • Somaliland - Preparation continues for the drilling of the Toosan-1 well on the highly prospective SL10B13 block (51% working interest and operator) - The Toosan prospect contains stacked Mesozoic reservoir objectives, with multiple individual prospective resource estimates each ranging from 100 to 200 MMbbls - Civil work at the wellsite is set to get underway shortly, and the Environmental, Social and Health Impact Assessment is nearing completion - Genel continues to target a spud date in H1 2024, acknowledging the challenges of operating in such a frontier area with limited existing infrastructure • Morocco - The farm-out programme on the Lagzira block (75% working interest and operator) is ongoing ESG • Genel’s 2022 Sustainability Report has been issued today, detailing our environmental performance and the positive impact that we strive to have on the communities in which we operate. Highlights include: - Zero LTIs across all Genel operations with 3 million hours worked incident free - Zero waste to landfill from operations at Sarta, with 91% recycled - Solar panel and battery storage unit operational at Sarta - Improvement in both CDP climate change and water security score
ARBITRATION • The London-seated international arbitration regarding Genel’s claim for substantial compensation from the KRG following the termination of the Miran and Bina Bawi PSCs is progressing. The trial remains scheduled for February 2024
11. May 2023 15:36
Another Kurdistan-based oil company, Anglo-Turkish Genel Energy, expresses disappointment at "prolonged closure" of the Iraq-Turkey pipeline
The prolonged closure of the
Iraq-Turkey pipeline is very disappointing and, although there continues to be
speculation regarding the timing of resumption of exports, we cannot predict
with any certainty when exports will recommence. In anticipation of exports
resuming we are seeking clarity on future arrangements and a mechanism in place
for regular and predictable payments going forward.
Genel Energy CEO Paul
11. May 2023 15:19
Here is a full statement from DNO:
DNO Reports First Quarter 2023 Results, Scales Back Kurdistan Spend
DNO ASA, the Norwegian oil and gas operator, today reported revenues of USD 269 million and operating profit of USD 155 million in the first quarter of 2023. While the first quarter 2023 figures were solid with net profit doubling from the previous quarter to USD 87 million, the quarter was also marked by the shutdown of oil production in the Kurdistan region of Iraq for export through Turkey to international markets commencing 25 March 2023.
Net production across DNO’s portfolio in the quarter averaged 89,400 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), of which Kurdistan contributed 70,900 barrels of oil per day (bopd), North Sea 14,800 boepd and West Africa 3,700 boepd. Oil not produced during the Kurdistan shutdown, as well as oil placed in storage, represent deferred volumes that will eventually be recovered and monetized.
Given the uncertain timing of export resumption and, importantly, of payments by the Kurdistan Regional Government for previous oil sales, DNO has scaled back spend in Kurdistan, including drilling.The number of active rigs at the operated flagship Tawke license will drop from four at the start of 2023 to none in the second half of the year following completion of previously planned activities. With these cuts, 2023 operational spend in Kurdistan has become heavily frontloaded, with 40 percent of the current full-year budget already spent in the first quarter.
Until export restarts and regularity of payment for past and ongoing oil sales is established, DNO cannot provide any projection of full-year Kurdistan production.
In the North Sea, DNO’s exploration success continued with the Røver Sør (DNO 20 percent) and Heisenberg (DNO 49 percent) discoveries announced in the quarter. These are the Company’s fourth and fifth consecutive discoveries in the Troll-Gjøa area, a current exploration hotspot given a high hit rate of medium-sized discoveries that are candidates for tieback to existing nearby infrastructure. The five discoveries are estimated to contain recoverable resources totaling 50 million barrels of oil equivalent net to DNO.
Seven wells remain to be drilled or completed as part of this year’s North Sea exploration program, all but two in the Troll-Gjøa area. The first of the exploration wells, Carmen (DNO 30 percent) is currently drilling, and will be followed by Eggen (DNO 20 percent), Litago (DNO 20 percent), Norma (DNO 40 percent), Bergknapp (DNO 30 percent, appraisal well), Ofelia (DNO 10 percent, appraisal well) and Cuvette (DNO 20 percent).
In 2023, North Sea net production is projected to average 12,000-13,000 boepd, while West Africa is projected to deliver an additional 3,500 boepd net to DNO. Total 2023 operational spend across the Company is currently projected at USD 590 million, of which the largest portion represents North Sea activities.
During the first quarter of 2023, distributions were made to shareholders through share buybacks of USD 51 million and dividends of USD 25 million. Notwithstanding, the Company exited the quarter with gross cash deposits of USD 911 million and net cash of USD 344 million.
Early next month, another quarterly dividend payment of NOK 0.25 per share will be made to shareholders.
11. May 2023 15:16
Norwegian oil and gas company DNO scales back spend in the Kurdistan Region, including drilling, citing "uncertain timing of export resumption and, importantly, of payments by the Kurdistan Regional Government for previous oil sales."
11. May 2023 14:48
Here's some snap analysis by economist Sadek Al-Rikaby on the deal:
Part of the visit pertains to Iran's financial dues to Iraq related to the import of gas, and the other part is connected to Iraq's ambition to increase production from its shared oil fields with Iran. However, there's also a significant matter concerning the future of the energy sector in Iraq.
Iraq is on the brink of major expansion in oil and gas production. In three years, Iraq will no longer need to import gas from Iran, so Iran aims to be an integral part of the Iraqi energy sector, rather than merely a gas source. As a result, Iran is striving to strengthen the Iranian-Iraqi partnership in the oil sectors, such as constructing refineries or infrastructure like pipeline expansion, and even in the field of clean energy and gas.
This strategy increases Iran's influence in the global energy market and ensures a substantial financial return, in addition to reinforcing its political sway in Iraq and the region.
We should also not overlook the existence of an agreement for technical and engineering services provided by Iran to Iraq, which will heighten Iraq's reliance on Iran in the technical aspect of the energy sector.
Al-Rikaby is director of The International Centre For Development Studies
11. May 2023 14:38
Full statement by PM Al-Sudani on the MoU with Iran
Prime Minister, Mr. Mohammed S. AI-Sudani, received today the Minister of Oil of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mr. Javad Owji, to discuss cooperation between the two countries and ways to enhance bilateral relations to serve the interests of the two friendly peoples. The meeting aimed to strengthen the two countries' abilities in confronting global economic challenges and foster better collaboration.
During the meeting, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the ministries of oil of both countries, which was overseen by the Prime Minister. The Iraqi Minister of Oil, Mr. Hayan Abdul Ghani, and the Iranian Minister, Mr. Javad Owji, signed the memorandum, which aimed at organizing cooperation between the two countries in investing in joint oil fields located on the Iraqi-Iranian borders, as well as cooperation in crude oil extraction, refining, and adopting technological methods for associated gas.
Moreover, the memorandum also emphasized the importance of enhancing collaboration in the petrochemical industries and training and qualifying staff working in the oil and gas sectors. This collaboration will support the efforts to develop the oil and gas industry and the associated sectors in both countries.
11. May 2023 13:46
Just in: SOMO officially asks Turkey to resume Kurdish oil export - MNR
Here is the full statement from MNR:
Procedures for resuming oil exports have now been completed.
Following an agreement between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Iraqi Federal Government on the Kurdistan Region's oil portfolio, procedures to resume oil exports have been concluded.
On May 10, SOMO officially requested that the Turkish side resume oil exports through the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline.
Both the [Kurdistan] Ministry of Natural Resources and the Federal Ministry of Oil are now awaiting Turkey's response to the request for a resumption in oil exports.
Following the arrest of Kurdish politician Azime Arsun in Turkey, there are emerging questions about her decision to travel from Erbil airport using an alleged fake passport.
This choice is perplexing, given the strained relations between the KDP, which manages security in Erbil, and the Kurdistan PKK. Not to mention the robust ties between Turkey and the KDP.
One possible explanation might be the Turkish ban on flights from Sulaymaniyah. However, this doesn't fully explain the situation, as there are flights from Sulaymaniyah to several other destinations, including global hubs like Doha and Dubai.
One possible explanation might be the Turkish ban on flights from Sulaymaniyah. However, this doesn't fully explain the situation, as there are flights from Sulaymaniyah to several other destinations, including global hubs like Doha and Dubai.
11. May 2023 13:07
He says to the squabbling parties "you should stop attacking each other"* and expresses personal support for reconciliation.
He also calls on Kurdistan's media outlets to provide positive support for this.
*He remains leader of his party and has been throughout the hostilities.
11. May 2023 13:04
11. May 2023 13:02
He is now calling on the KDP and PUK political bureaus to meet and prepare for a wider meeting.
Previous meetings between the parties recently have been conducted by officials far below the politburo levels. A meeting between the two parties' politburos would suggest significant progress in talks.
11. May 2023 13:01
KDP leader Masoud Barzani has called for a meeting "as soon as possible" between Kurdish political parties to resolve outstanding issues.
He hopes that this gathering will usher in a new era and take place before 18 May, which the Kurdistan Higher Electoral Commission has earmarked as the start date for preparations for the November elections.
The Kurdistan Parliament needs to approve the activation of a new mandate for the commission.
11. May 2023 12:41
Baghdad and Tehran fortify energy ties with MoU to develop shared oil fields
Iraq and Iran have taken a significant step in solidifying their energy ties with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The agreement, signed by the oil ministers of the two countries, focuses on collaboration for investment and development in the oil fields located along their shared border.
The Iraqi PM's office states that the agreement includes "crude oil extraction, refining, and adopting technological methods for associated gas."
Despite being OPEC's second-largest oil producer and having one of the world's largest reserves of oil and gas, Iraq relies heavily on Iranian gas to power its electricity plants.
The signing of the MoU indicates a further strengthening of their energy ties, which persists despite U.S. pressure on Baghdad to reduce its dependence on Iran's energy resources and strive towards self-sufficiency. Washington has agreed to temporary sanctions exemptions for Iraq to prevent power blackouts.
This agreement follows last year's move by Iran's Ministry of Petroleum to establish a representative office in Baghdad, with plans to open two more offices in Erbil and Basra. These developments underline the growing interdependence of Iraq and Iran in the energy sector, even amidst international political pressures.
11. May 2023 12:49
Opening of the Barzani National Memorial: Analysis of media coverage
The Barzani National Memorial, a major undertaking in Barzan, Erbil province, was inaugurated today by Masoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and former Kurdistan Region President. This significant project incorporates a museum, gallery, library, and mosque, with a mosaic mural of Mustafa Barzani, the KDP's founder and Masoud's father, serving as its centerpiece.
The event attracted dignitaries nationwide, including Iraq's president, prime minister, and parliament speaker. The ceremony even featured a read-out message from former U.S. President George W. Bush.
Yet, the media coverage of the event showed a distinct bias. KDP-aligned outlets such as Rudaw, Kurdistan 24, Bas News, Kurdistan TV, and Xebat provided extensive coverage.
In contrast, media outlets based in Sulaymaniyah largely neglected the event. A rare exception was Zamen Press, which reported on the attendance of officials from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) at the memorial. Kurd Sat News mentioned Iraq’s President Latif Rashid's visit to Erbil, but only within the context of the article was it apparent that this visit was related to the memorial inauguration.
NRT TV and the NRT Kurdish website, both affiliated with the opposition New Generation Movement, overlooked the event entirely. Instead, their website hosted an article about squirrels at the time of the memorial's inauguration.
Non-party affiliated media in Sulaymaniyah had limited coverage of the event, with some writing about individual speeches but few providing coverage of the event itself.
Public sentiment in Sulaymaniyah and Halabja provinces has historically been critical of the KDP, the Barzani family, and, by extension, the KRG, which is dominated by the party and the clan.
11. May 2023 11:54
The Foreign Relations Committee of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) issued a statement yesterday, sharply criticising the arrest of Azime Arsun.
They suggested that the KDP and its intelligence service, Parastin, may have handed Arsun over to Turkey's Intelligence Services (MIT).
The KCK, acting as the umbrella organization for the PKK and other affiliated organizations, stated, "It is a great shame for the KDP to detain a revolutionary Kurdish woman in this manner and to potentially use her to further its murky relations with the Turkish state."
The KCK's statement added that Arsun, who they say is suffering from severe heart disease, was travelling abroad for medical treatment, but was instead 'kidnapped' by Parastin and taken to an unknown destination.
Relations between the KDP and PKK are notoriously poor. The KDP maintains strategic relations with Turkey, particularly with the ruling AKP party, a country the PKK is waging an active insurgency against.
Beyond their differing stances towards Turkey, the KDP and PKK represent two polar ideological positions amongst the Kurdish people: the KDP being a socially conservative, capitalist party led by the Barzani clan, and the PKK a left-wing revolutionary movement.
11. May 2023 10:57
Statement from the Erbil Provincial Residence Directorate
Concerning the detention of an individual named Azime Arsun at Erbil International Airport, we wish to inform the public that the said person attempted to travel abroad using counterfeit Iraqi passports and documents.
However, the airport police identified her false documents and initiated an investigation.
As a result of this investigation, it was discovered that she is wanted by the Iraqi federal security agencies.
She has been detained and interrogated at their request and will soon be handed over to the federal government authorities.
Authorities in Erbil have confirmed the arrest of Kurdish politician Azime Arsun on charges of possessing a fake passport and identity. She is set to be handed over to the Iraqi authorities. The Erbil residency authority indicates she is wanted by federal security forces. This news follows allegations from the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) that she was kidnapped and her whereabouts were unknown.
Iraqi and Kurdish leaders, along with foreign dignitaries, have gathered in Erbil for the opening of the Barzani National Memorial, dedicated to the late leader Mustafa Barzani. Media outlets affiliated with the KDP have been offering comprehensive coverage of the occasion, while those based in Sulaimaniyah tend to overlook such happenings. Qubad Talabani of the PUK is among the guests, following his recent meeting with Masrour Barzani. Other notable names on the guest list include Iraqi PM Muhammed al-Sudani and President Latif Rashid.