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Shell-Iraq gas company would be Basra natural gas monopoly

Iraq Oil Report


November 4, 2008

*Proposed joint venture could expand beyond Basra
*Includes all gas, associated and non-associated, documents show

*Oil Ministry presses Parliament on oil law action
*Alive in Baghdad: Who would Iraqis vote for – McCain or Obama?
*Violence in Context
*Iraq Press Roundup
*USIP: Iraq’s Cultural Heritage: Preserving the Past for the Sake of the Future
*Much more

A secret document obtained by United Press International reveals a planned joint venture company between Royal Dutch Shell and the Iraqi Oil Ministry would give the company a 25-year monopoly on the gas industry of southern Iraq, Ben Lando reports for United Press International.

Shell and the ministry are currently negotiating the terms of the joint venture company. On Sept. 22 the two signed what’s known as a "Heads of Agreement," basically a rough draft of the contract, a legal framework establishing the management team and the scope, purpose and other details of the company.

Though it’s non-binding, the confidential document is telling.

If the joint venture company is finalized as outlined in the HOA, it would give Shell the largest role in Iraq’s oil and gas sector since the 1960s, when the world’s Big Oil firms were kicked out after 40 years of virtual control of exploration, production, exports, and payments to the government.

The joint venture will be the "sole gas company engaged in business," as outlined in the HOA, "and providing gas for domestic and export markets and generating revenues from gas marketing activities."

At the time of the HOA signing, Shell and ministry officials pitched the future joint venture company’s role as utilizing for domestic needs the natural gas currently being wasted in Basra province. Iraq would own 51 percent and Shell 49 percent. …

The oil and gas sector is in need of new and modern investment, though there’s a dispute over how to proceed: rebuild the once prominent domestic oil and gas industry or allow foreign companies to re-enter the sector. …

According to the previously unseen HOA, "the joint venture will off-take and purchase all Raw Gas produced in the South of Iraq by either the South Oil Co. or any other producer." The HOA defines "South of Iraq" as the southernmost province — and oil and gas capital — of Basra, though a map appendix to the HOA shows the contract territory extending for an unknown distance into the Persian Gulf "and any other areas as may be agreed by (Shell and the Oil Ministry)."

The joint venture would not focus solely on gas currently being produced in the agreed upon area. As oil production increases, as expected by the ministry, so will the gas; most of Iraq’s gas production is what’s called "associated gas," found during oil production.

Iraq has the world’s 10th-largest proven gas reserves, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, most of it located in southern Iraq. Two to three times more reserves could be found when it is fully explored, and much more expected to be "non-associated" gas, reservoirs independent of the oil.

"The Parties acknowledge that access to non-associated gas is essential to ensure that the aims of the Joint Venture are met," the HOA states, adding one of the objectives of the company is to "pursue development of non-associated gas fields in southern Iraq according to respective rules and regulations for field development in Iraq."

There’s more if you read the entire story: Click Here.

Iraq’s Oil Ministry renews its calls on Parliament to make progress on the oil law, The Associated Press reports.

Iraq has corrected its budget in light of the oil price slump. Lionel Laurent reports for Forbes on what this all means.

Alive in Baghdad: Who would Iraqis elect, Obama or McCain?

With the United States Presidential election looming and Iraq coverage dwindling dramatically, we decided to combine the two topics. Correspondents Nabeel Kamal and Ali Al-Le’abiy hit the streets of Baghdad and interviewed several Iraqis as to their opinion of the candidates. Our sampling was done in a short timeframe and by no means represents a statistically accurate cross-section of the Iraqi public. However, we do feel that you will hear an array of different opinions, and begin to gain a little insight into how the Iraqi public views the American government and electorate, more than five and years after the invasion.

Violence in Context

Iraq has been less of a campaign issue in the United States presidential race as the economic crisis soars and the level of violence in Iraq decreases, Liz Sly reports for the Chicago Tribune. "But the violence is still at a level that would be intolerable in any other society.

Take the sniper of Mansour, who has killed at least six Iraqi soldiers in recent weeks in this upscale neighborhood, shooting from a distance across crowded shopping streets and a busy traffic circle.

"It is safe here, very safe," said Hussein Aamer, 25, who owns a fashion store near the scene of one recent shooting. "Or at least, it’s 90 percent safe. It’s true there is a sniper, and we had some small bombs," he says, pointing in the directions from which recent attacks had come.

"But still it’s completely different now, like the difference between the sky and the earth, compared to 2007 and before." …

Such is the tenor of life these days in post-surge Baghdad, where the presence of a sniper in a community’s midst can be shrugged off as a minor annoyance compared to the onslaught of car bombings, killings and kidnappings that raged throughout 2006 and much of 2007."

Iraqi reporter Waleed Ibrahim writes for Reuters about the complexity of today’s Iraq, and adds a reminder how there is no false experience in Iraq. He recounts how in 2003 his father-in-law expressed fear that as U.S. tanks rumbled through Baghdad there would come a day when Saddam would actually be missed:

For five years, I have been asking myself the same question: how did it come to be that Iraqis like my father-in-law, driven to live as an illegal immigrant outside Iraq, rue Saddam’s fall?

I can say without hesitation that many Iraqis share my father-in-law’s feelings. Not because they supported Saddam, although there are many who still do, but because the hopes of a better life that were born in April 2003 have been crushed.

Iraqis today spend a great deal of time comparing their lives today to the situation before 2003. It’s not a winning comparison. Unbelievable bloodshed, a lack of basic services from electricity to clean water, and widespread unemployment have made life hellish for many Iraqis.

It is true that there is less violence today than there was a year ago, but assassinations, bomb attacks and other grim acts still occur on a daily basis. All this casts a dark shadow on the security situation in Iraq and reminds us of the fragility of Iraq’s vaunted turnaround.

A conversation with any person on any Iraqi street will be one marked by disappointment. Anger is particularly sharp at Iraq’s political class, which is now locked in a fierce power struggle at the highest levels while most ordinary Iraqis struggle to simply get by.

Amid Iraq’s violence, a radio station gives people hope, Corinne Reilly reports for McClatchy Newspapers. "In a city overwhelmed by the complexities and uncertainties of war, Sumer FM is one thing its listeners can count on. Launched by a Lebanese businessman in November 2004, the station has stayed on the air every day since, even through Baghdad’s most violent months.

A year ago, it was so dangerous here that many Iraqis were afraid to even leave their homes, and the cost of living in Baghdad has skyrocketed since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. But staying in and listening to the radio has remained safe and cheap.

Even when the electricity is out, as it still is for large portions of the day here, the radios stay on."

Baghdad should reconsider its stance on inviting Iraqi refugees back to the country until the security situation is stabilized completely, aid groups said, UPI reports.

Read what Iraqis read, the Iraq Press Roundup by UPI’s Alaa Majeed.

Iraq’s Cultural Heritage: Preserving the Past for the Sake of the Future - Elizabeth Detwiler of the U.S. Institute of Peace releases their latest briefing, on "the continued looting of Iraqi antiquities and measures that have been taken to recover and protect Iraq’s cultural heritage. In addition, it highlights the value of international law and policing to prevent such crimes."

:: Article nr. 48577 sent on 07-nov-2008 21:22 ECT


Link: www.iraqoilreport.com/2008/11/04/shell-iraq-gas-company-would-be-basra-natural-g

:: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.

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