Workers at the Rumaila oil refinery near Basra. Iraq has broken off talks with a Japanese consortium concerning the Nassiriya oilfield.
Workers at the Rumaila oil refinery near Basra. Iraq has broken off talks with a Japanese consortium concerning the Nassiriya oilfield.

Iraq ditches oil talks with Japan



Iraq has broken off talks with a Japanese consortium led by Nippon Oil over the development of its Nassiriya oilfield, intensifying doubts about the viability of Baghdad's ambitious plans to boost the country's oil output. After months of discussions, financing issues appear to have derailed the US$8 billion (Dh29.38bn) deal, which Baghdad had tried to negotiate outside the framework of the two oil licensing auctions it held last year.

"The talks reached a deadlock and we aren't going to meet again," said Abdul al Ameedi, the head of the Iraqi oil ministry's petroleum contracts and licensing directorate. Previously, Iraqi officials had said the biggest obstacles to finalising a contract with Nippon and its Japanese partners, the oil producer Inpex and the construction firm JGC, were financial. They included concerns over how Iraq would repay the foreign firms' costs for field development and handling workforce security and safety.

Nassiriya, which may contain nearly 5 billion barrels of oil reserves, ranks among Iraq's second tier of oilfields, falling just short of the 5-billion-barrels-plus "supergiant" status. Nevertheless, the oil ministry had hoped to see the field's current output, which may have fallen as low as 10,000 barrels per day (bpd), boosted many times over in the next few years. Nippon Oil had indicated it could raise production to 200,000 bpd within two years and had hoped eventually to pump 600,000 bpd to supply about 10 per cent of Japanese oil consumption.

Dhiya Jaafar, the head of the Iraqi government-owned South Oil Company (SOC), suggested Iraq might develop the field on its own. SOC planned to drill 10 new wells in Nassiriya this year to lift the field's output to 50,000 bpd by the end of the year, he said on Sunday. Yesterday, however, Mr al Ameedi said no decision had been taken on what to do with the field. The ministry might hold a "special bidding round" for Nassiriya later this year, when it would invite a number of international companies including Nippon to submit bids, he added.

The Iraqi oil minister, Dr Hussain al Shahristani, announced last June that the Japanese consortium had been chosen to develop the oilfield, after eliminating groups led by Italy's Eni and Spain's Repsol from the competition. Following the signing earlier this year of a number of oil contracts with foreign oil companies that had bid successfully in the licensing auctions, the minister said Iraq's oil production capacity could be raised to 12 million bpd from 2.5 million bpd within the next seven years, rivalling that of Saudi Arabia.

Mr Jaafar said yesterday that SOC and the foreign consortium of BP and China National Petroleum Corporation developing Iraq's largest oilfield, Rumaila, had awarded a $318 million contract to a unit of Turkey's state-owned Turkish Petroleum to drill 45 wells. Last week, however, Luay Jawad the executive director of Iraq Energy Institute, the London-based consulting firm that advises Baghdad on energy issues, said Iraq's deficit of more than $20bn this year cast doubt on the ability of its state oil companies, such as SOC, to pay their 25 per cent share of development costs for the new oil projects.

In a separate development yesterday, Dr al Shahristani said Baghdad was seeking discussions with the regional government of Iraqi Kurdistan over the terms of contracts the Kurds signed with foreign oil firms operating in their region before he would sanction payments to the companies for oil exports. "We have nothing to do with these companies," he said. "If we can discuss their contracts, that would be another story."

The minister's remarks dealt another setback to recently revived hopes that, with a national election set for Sunday, the Kurds and Baghdad might resolve a long-running dispute over oil jurisdiction that has halted exports from Kurdistan. The Kurdish government maintains it has a constitutional right to set the terms of contracts for oil and gas production from its territory without federal oversight.

Dr al Sharistani disagrees, and has called the deals "illegal". @Email:tcarlisle@thenational.ae

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

Company profile

Name: Fruitful Day

Founders: Marie-Christine Luijckx, Lyla Dalal AlRawi, Lindsey Fournie

Based: Dubai, UAE

Founded: 2015

Number of employees: 30

Sector: F&B

Funding so far: Dh3 million

Future funding plans: None at present

Future markets: Saudi Arabia, potentially Kuwait and other GCC countries

Avatar (2009)

Director: James Cameron

Stars: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver

Rating: 3/5

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo

Power: 240hp at 5,500rpm

Torque: 390Nm at 3,000rpm

Transmission: eight-speed auto

Price: from Dh122,745

On sale: now

HEY MERCEDES, WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR ME?

Mercedes-Benz's MBUX digital voice assistant, Hey Mercedes, allows users to set up commands for:

• Navigation

• Calls

• In-car climate

• Ambient lighting

• Media controls

• Driver assistance

• General inquiries such as motor data, fuel consumption and next service schedule, and even funny questions

There's also a hidden feature: pressing and holding the voice command button on the steering wheel activates the voice assistant on a connected smartphone – Siri on Apple's iOS or Google Assistant on Android – enabling a user to command the car even without Apple CarPlay or Android Auto

Roll of Honour, men’s domestic rugby season

West Asia Premiership
Champions: Dubai Tigers
Runners up: Bahrain

UAE Premiership
Champions: Jebel Ali Dragons
Runners up: Dubai Hurricanes

UAE Division 1
Champions: Dubai Sharks
Runners up: Abu Dhabi Harlequins II

UAE Division 2
Champions: Dubai Tigers III
Runners up: Dubai Sharks II

Dubai Sevens
Champions: Dubai Tigers
Runners up: Dubai Hurricanes

Kill

Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

12 restaurants opening at the hotel this month

Ariana’s Persian Kitchen
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Estiatorio Milos
House of Desserts
Jaleo by Jose Andres
La Mar
Ling Ling
Little Venice Cake Company
Malibu 90265
Nobu by the Beach
Resonance by Heston Blumenthal
The Royal Tearoom 

THE SPECS

Engine: Four-cylinder 2.5-litre

Transmission: Seven-speed auto

Power: 165hp

Torque: 241Nm

Price: Dh99,900 to Dh134,000

On sale: now

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

Cases of coronavirus in the GCC as of March 15

Saudi Arabia – 103 infected, 0 dead, 1 recovered

UAE – 86 infected, 0 dead, 23 recovered

Bahrain – 210 infected, 0 dead, 44 recovered

Kuwait – 104 infected, 0 dead, 5 recovered

Qatar – 337 infected, 0 dead, 4 recovered

Oman – 19 infected, 0 dead, 9 recovered

Inside Out 2

Director: Kelsey Mann

Starring: Amy Poehler, Maya Hawke, Ayo Edebiri

Rating: 4.5/5

THE SPECS

Engine: 3.5-litre supercharged V6

Power: 416hp at 7,000rpm

Torque: 410Nm at 3,500rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Fuel consumption: 10.2 l/100km

Price: Dh375,000 

On sale: now 

How to register as a donor

1) Organ donors can register on the Hayat app, run by the Ministry of Health and Prevention

2) There are about 11,000 patients in the country in need of organ transplants

3) People must be over 21. Emiratis and residents can register. 

4) The campaign uses the hashtag  #donate_hope

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

Signs of heat stroke
  • The loss of sodium chloride in our sweat can lead to confusion and an altered mental status and slurred speech
  • Body temperature above 39°C
  • Hot, dry and red or damp skin can indicate heatstroke
  • A faster pulse than usual
  • Dizziness, nausea and headaches are also signs of overheating
  • In extreme cases, victims can lose consciousness and require immediate medical attention
Scoreline

Ireland 16 (Tries: Stockdale Cons: Sexton Pens: Sexton 3)

New Zealand 9 (Pens: Barrett 2 Drop Goal: Barrett)

Three tips from La Perle's performers

1 The kind of water athletes drink is important. Gwilym Hooson, a 28-year-old British performer who is currently recovering from knee surgery, found that out when the company was still in Studio City, training for 12 hours a day. “The physio team was like: ‘Why is everyone getting cramps?’ And then they realised we had to add salt and sugar to the water,” he says.

2 A little chocolate is a good thing. “It’s emergency energy,” says Craig Paul Smith, La Perle’s head coach and former Cirque du Soleil performer, gesturing to an almost-empty open box of mini chocolate bars on his desk backstage.

3 Take chances, says Young, who has worked all over the world, including most recently at Dragone’s show in China. “Every time we go out of our comfort zone, we learn a lot about ourselves,” she says.

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE.

Part three: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE

Five expert hiking tips
  • Always check the weather forecast before setting off
  • Make sure you have plenty of water
  • Set off early to avoid sudden weather changes in the afternoon
  • Wear appropriate clothing and footwear
  • Take your litter home with you

Latest
Most Read
Top Videos