Saturday, 16 May 2009

New cock in the neighborhood

A new cock just started to crow in Iraq's western desert, where Anbar province stretches, to get his share from the Iraqi hydrocarbon resources. He is Sheik Ahmed Abu Risha, the head of the influential Awakening Council in Iraq which hold remarkable seats in the newly-founded Anbar Provincial Council.

It sounds that during a visit to the United Arab Emirates, the Sharjah-based Crescent Petroleum whispered to Abdu Risha about how promising the Akkaz gas field is, unleashing his imagination on how much money this field on the border with Syria can bring to his pocket.

He now alleges that he has a "written approval" from Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, to start negotiations with the Crescent Petroleum to develop the field, but Iraqi Oil Minister, Hussain al-Shahristani, opposes it.The same allegations the Kurds say to justify their deals but have not presented this "written approval" yet.

In an interview with the Dubai-based al-Arabia satellite channel on Friday, Abu Risha added that the company is ready to enter to Anbar province, pump millions of dollars to develop the field, build a 3,600-megawatt electricity power plant and create 100,000 Job opportunities.

He also alleges that the constitution gives his Provincial Council the right to do so and gives him the right also to reject all the Oil Minister's decisions.

How smart move from the Crescent Petroleum in a bid to copy the same deal it secured with the Kurds and how clever our sheik is who doesn't know that Akkaz field is offered in the first bidding round that is planned to be finalized next month.He also doesn't know what the law says about his Provincial Council's authorizations.

This is only one of cocks I talked about in my 14 May post....what you think?

Friday, 15 May 2009

Let's see to where this will take us

The Iraqi Oil Minister, Hussain al-Shahristani, has fired back from neighboring Jordan toward the Kurdistan Regional Government and other parts of the world where the International Oil Companies, who hold contracts with the Kurds, are based.

Al-Shahristani eventually broke his silence and put the dots on the letters, as the Arabic language puts it, when said: "Those who signed the contracts with these companies are responsible to pay back and compensate them."

"The company won't receive from the oil ministry any dollar or a barrel of oil," al-Shahristani told Dow Jones Newswires in an interview late Thursday night.

On Friday afternoon, the usually quiet al-Shahristani became more aggressive, challenging the KRG's Natural Resources Minister, Ashti Hawrami if he can get the companies' share from the produced oil.

‘If [the Kurdish oil minister] can get a dollar out of the [Iraqi finance] ministry, let him call me,’ he told the Financial in a video interview.

Now your turn comes Mr. Hawarmi, but try to bring something new not only mentioning the same "constitutional rights," something practical on how these companies will be paid.

And let's see to where this will take us....

Thursday, 14 May 2009

It has become very boring

There was a joke widely circulated after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein about a man who slaughtered his cock after his neighbors' complaints about its crow which disturbed their day and night.

To prove his step, the man invited his neighbors to a lunch in his house where he offered his cock meat to them with rice. As the invited neighbors were enjoying the feast in a quiet neighborhood, crow of dozens of other cocks reached to their ears from everywhere.

The invited neighbors looked to each other as the man laughed.

"You were complaining from one cock and now you have dozens of them who were not dare to crow when mine was here," the man told his guests.

I think this is the picture in Iraq today: a lot of cocks crowing from all the sides while the country and its normal people are the only ones who suffer and pay the price .

Today, the fight of words between Iraqi Oil Minister, Hussain al-Shahristani and Ashti Hawrami, the Natural Resources Minister at the Kurdistan Regional Government, entered a new page with Hawrami issuing a fiery statement through Iraq Oil Report about al-Shahristani's latest comments on the Kurds controversial deals.

In his provoked e-mail, Hawrami challenges al-Shahristani if he dares to do anything to the two dozen production-sharing contracts with the International oil companies since he considers them illegal and illegitimate.

He went on as saying that al-Shahristani's authority "is not recognized" in the KRG as if the Kurds are in an independent neighboring state. He called also his statements against the deals as "very boring."

Few hours later, al-Shahristani replied through Bloomberg.

"We are not bound by agreements signed” by the KRG, he said in an interview on the eve of the annual World Economic Forum for the Middle East in Jordan. “These agreements to us are void and we will not compensate those companies who signed agreements. They will have to seek compensation from whomever they signed them with.”

These men, al-Shahristani and Hawarami, are only some of the cocks now crowing everywhere in Iraq and fight each others while Iraq and its people are in dire need for each cent.

Frankly speaking their long-running dispute has become very boring.

I'm not Baathist in case you might get me wrong.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

I can't wait until June 1

The long time Hussain al-Shahristani and Ashti Hawrami keep mum on the details of their controversial and obscure agreement, the more questions and analysis we will see everyday trying to find out who imposed his conditions and then won the war.

Today, Daniel Canty wrote for the in which he echoed what Baghdad's Kassakhoon and others raised recently about exporting oil produced in the Kurdish region , but he went further to put an end to all our questions by describing the latest development "as elusive as ever."

As far as the IHS Global Insight Middle East energy analyst, Samuel Ciszuk, understands by analyzing the deal and al-Shahristani's afterward comments, the oil companies would not be reimbursed for their investment and the Kurds would have to manage the full production cost, cost recovery, and profit margin out of their own 17% share of the government revenues.

Also Wednesday, the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Masoud Barzani, pretended in an interview with Reuters that he knew nothing if there was a special arrangement with central government on how to pay DNO and Addax.

But he didn't miss the occasion to slap al-Shahristani. "I don't think he personally understands himself or what he does, but it isn't important for us what he says," Barzani said of Shahristani.

I can't wait until June 1 to find out.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Hussein Al-Shahristani's trap

The Iraqi Oil Minister, Hussain al-Shahristani, reissued the same contradictory statements on Tuesday about the Kurds' oil deals, saying that although he's still considering them "illegal and illegitimate" but he wants the oil extracted by the companies which hold these contracts, The Associated Press reports.

This is weird Mr. Minister, I think you should be clear on which oil deals you are talking about , on what terms you will collect the oil produced from Tawke and Taq Taq specifically, does your approval to Kurds export plans from these two fields mean that you implicitly accepting these deals or you will change their terms?

I think that al-Shahristani has been dragged to a trap in which he will find himself at the end of the day forced to accept other deals unless there is somthing to be agreed on before June 1.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Ambiguity still there...

Norway's DNO International ASA and Canada's Addax Petroleum along with its Turkish partner Genel Enerj have become the first western oil companies to be granted crude export permits from Iraq's central government.

The companies' Monday statements, which announced the formal notifications they received from Kurdistan Regional Government to launch export next month, didn't mention anything about how the terms of their controversial production-sharing contracts, which are rejected by the central government, will be implemented.

Only Addax Pterolum threw a paragraph in its statement in which it prepares the audience for something in the horizon, I guess.

"The crude oil will be marketed by the State Oil Marketing Organization ("SOMO") and revenues will be directed to Addax Petroleum and Genel Energy through the coordination of the KRG on terms to be agreed under the framework of the production sharing contract," it said without elaborating.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Ashti Hawrami was not lying

In a remarkable development, Iraqi central government agreed Sunday to grant the Kurds in the northern semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan an export permit for the oil produced in their region, Sinan Salaheddin reports for The Associated Press.

Today's news rebuffed last Friday denial by the Oil Ministry when the region's Natural Resources Minister, Ashti Hawrami, set June 1 to start crude exporting from two oil fields. Assem Jihad, who denied Hawrami's statement on Friday, confirmed today the reports.

But it sounds to me that the two sides have reached a middle solution by keeping the issue of how these companies will be remunerated and how they will take their shares from the profit oil pending. Both sides are now saying that all the produced oil will be handed over to the Oil Ministry's State-run Oil Marketing Organization, SOMO.

But none is saying anything about how this issue will be treated, we'll find out in the future.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Ashti Hawrami lies again...why?

The Minister of Natural Resources in Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government, Ashti Hawrami, announced Friday that the Kurds will start exporting crude oil, produced in two oil fields in their region, on June 1 via the Iraq-Turkey oil pipeline. But later it was found out that the annoucement was only a lie.

Immediately after the announcement, two senior Iraqi officials, the Oil Ministry's spokesman and the head of state-run oil marketing organization, denied that any deal had been completed. In addition, the companies involved in developing Tawke and Taq Taq oil fields also denied Hawrami's annoucement.

So what Mr. Hawrami wants to gain from this move? does he want to embarrass Iraqi Oil Minister, Hussein al-Shahristani who is under heavy pressure to increase Iraq's nearly 2.4 million barrels a day to force him to recognize the widely-rejected production-sharing contracts the Kurds signed with western oil companies? or he just wanted to shore up the two companies shares in the stock market?....or what?