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Falah Al-'Amiri.

The head of the MoO's State Oil Marketing Organisation (SOMO), Amiri is also Iraq's governor at the OPEC Secretariat in Vienna. Under him at SOMO, several department heads such as Mu'ab Hassan al-Dujaili, who is in charge of crude oil marketing. SOMO is the sole agency in charge of the country's petroleum exports and imports. Amiri is eager to see Iraq's export pipelines and terminals expand on a large scale before 2020 (see omt20IraqExprt17May17).

Abdul Mahdy al-Ameedi: The Director-General of the MoO's powerful Petroleum Contracts and Licencing Directorate (PCLD), Ameedi plays a central role in all the past and future rounds of auctions develop the central government-controlled oil and gas. The first of such auctions began in 2009. But Ameedi's PCLD is also in charge of all such contracts, including those for the refining and natural gas processing sectors.

On April 15, 2010, the MoO had sent to the central cabinet a proposal worked out by Ameedi's directorate to convert recoverable five-year soft loans from IOCs developing two of the country's giant oilfields into un-recoverable signature bonuses. The MoO had set a recoverable five-year soft loan of $400m for the super-giant West Qurna-1 oilfield to be paid by ExxonMobil and Shell. Ameedi asked them instead to pay an un-recoverable $100m signature bonus. Both firms in January 2010 had signed the 20-year TSA with the MoO to develop the field. Other IOCs did the same.

West Qurna is part of the Rumaila Oil Triangle (ROT) in southern Iraq. The ROT is the largest group of major oilfields in the Greater Middle East (GME). It is said to contain the biggest accumulation of conventional petroleum liquids in the world, perhaps larger than Saudi Arabia's axis of oilfields called Ghawar. That, however, is yet to be confirmed.

The signature bonus was a sizable reduction from the $400m-500m the MoO had sought months earlier. It was also considerably less than the signature bonuses which some IOCs had been required to pay out in places like Libya. BP and its partner CNPC, which won the TSA to develop Rumaila, had already paid the MoO $500m as a recoverable soft loan. Ameedi then said that would not be altered; it was already paid and put in Iraq's account.

Asked why the MoO decided to alter the loans to signature bonuses for the fields in the first bidding round except for Rumaila, Ameedi said: "When we set the recoverable loans earlier (2009), oil prices were very low hovering around $38/barrel and Iraq was in dire need of cash. Now oil prices are much higher [around $85/b] and Iraq earns more money from its oil sales". But more recently world crude oil prices have fallen sharply. The decline had begun from June 2014.

The TSAs are officially called Exploration Development Production Risk Service Contracts. LUKoil, the largest among Russia's oil producing companies, leads the venture developing West Qurna-2. That, too, is a super-giant oilfield.

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Publication:APS Review Downstream Trends
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:May 21, 2017
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