Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq – Kurdistan’s oil and gas has been a force for stability and will benefit all the people of Iraq, Kurdistan Region Deputy Prime Minister Imad Ahmed told the second day of the CWC Kurdistan Iraq Oil and Gas Conference.

He said, ‘Kurdistan has good relations with Turkey and will continue to develop its relations with Iran. The Kurdistan Region has not been the cause of instability in the region, but to the contrary it has played an important and positive role in the stability of our neighbours. The whole of Iraq’s people and our neighbours will benefit from Kurdistan’s oil and gas resources.’

The Deputy Prime Minister was speaking at the closing session of the conference at which speakers concluded that Kurdistan is moving from the exploration phase to development and production.

Dr Ashti Hawrami, the Minister of Natural Resources, replying to a question about the consolidation of the oil and gas industry and the possible entry of China into Kurdistan said, ‘We are moving from exploration to production. Next year we will be talking about how much we produced and how much we exported. The direction of the industry, and the companies and their consolidation, is a market driven process. We play a role in identifying investments and technology, and will guide the process through transparency and market economy. If China, or any other country, brings technology and investment, then they are welcome.’

Nadhim Zahawi MP, Co-chair of the all party parliamentary group on Kurdistan and a member of the No 10 Energy Policy Unit, conveyed a British view on the production and export of oil and gas from the Kurdistan Region, ‘Gas coming into Europe from Kurdistan is good news for us as the gas production will bring down the prices including in the UK, and will become a supply channel to Europe ensuring its energy security.’

Mr Zahawi was part of a panel, conducted by Michael Howard, advisor to the Minister of Natural Resources, that also included Dr Ashti Hawrami, Minister of Natural Resources, Minister Falah Mustafa, Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, Minister Qubad Talabani, Head of the Department for Coordination and Follow up, and Zalmay Khalilzad, former US Ambassador to the United Nations and Iraq. The panel covered subjects including energy cooperation between KRG and Turkey and Washington's concerns about this cooperation, the formation of the 8thKRG cabinet, and the impact of the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

Minister Mustafa outlined the humanitarian crisis in Syria and its impact on Kurdistan, ‘No solution seems to be on the horizon that would end the conflict. The refugee situation is very serious and we need the international community to help more and Baghdad to contribute to our efforts. I would like to thank the oil companies in Kurdistan which have pledged to help the Syrian refugees, this will make a difference.’

Addressing the formation of the KRG 8th cabinet, Minister Talabani said, ’The priorities of the next cabinet will be delivering better policies and services to the people. We want to focus on what matters to our citizens, improving the quality of our education and healthcare.

Zalmay Khalilzad congratulated the KRG on Kurdistan's success in developing its energy sector. Addressing American concerns about cooperation with Turkey, he said, ‘I believe that the US supports and believes it’s a good thing that more oil has been produced in Iraq including in the Kurdistan Region as it is good for consumers around the world including the American people. The US wants the Kurdistan’s oil to be a net-contributor not just for Kurdistan but for all Iraqis.

Another theme of the conference was how Kurdistan’s oil and gas sector can help develop the wider Kurdish economy and how international oil companies can contribute to community projects, skills-development and job-creation.

Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, KRG High Representative to the UK, who chaired the session on the corporate social responsibility (CSR), said, ‘The oil and gas industry is not just about seismic measurements, barrels and pipelines, but it is about people. We want to provide jobs for local communities, to develop the skills of our young people and to provide better healthcare and a prosperous future for all our people.’

The panel also included Maya Khouri, Programme Manager of Aamina, responsible for coordinating and executing CSR programmes in Erbil, Ministry of Natural Resources advisor, Ian McIntosh, on increasing the number of skilled Kurds in the oil and gas sector, and Shaho Hussein, the CSR advisor. Mr Hussein said there has to be a triangle of cooperation between the Kurdistan Regional Government, the oil companies and the community.

Ms Khouri called for building an education pipeline alongside oil pipelines. She said, ‘Closing the skills gap and building human capital is a long term project which requires resources and capital.’

Outlining the needs and plans of the MNR in developing skilled workforce in oil and gas industry, Mr McIntosh said, ‘We are establishing the capability development program organisation – the Kurdistan Oil & Gas Workforce Capability Development Association to ensure the right focus in each area and to encourage collaboration from the relevant organisations.’

CSR includes projects such as the founding of a new Children’s Hospital to tackle a needlessly high number of avoidable deaths and disabilities, presented at the conference by Rang Shawis, Consultant Paediatric surgeon and Chairman of the Kurdistan Children’s Hospital in Erbil.

The conference was opened by Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and was addressed by Taner Yildiz, Turkey’s Energy Minister. It was also attended by Fuad Hussein, President Barzani’s Chief of Staff, Atheel al- Nujaifi, the Governor of Ninewah, Ali Sindi, the Minister of Planning, Ali Saeed, the Minister of Higher Education, Safeen Dizayee, the KRG spokesperson, the former KRG Prime Minister Barham Salih, members of Iraqi parliament's oil and energy committee, the advisor to Iran's oil minister, former British ambassadors William Patey and Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Alexander Dyukov, chief executive of Gazprom Neft, as well as former and current KRG officials and ministers.

The conference's second day also focused on integrating technological innovations to support future growth and enhancing upstream investment in the oil and gas industry.

The discussions on the first day focused on fostering oil and gas reserves, exploration and production successes and future plans, and using energy to develop the wider Kurdish economy.

Several pre-conference workshops were also held, focusing on Petroleum law, infrastructure contracts, oil fields services techniques, logistics and local recruitment.

Now in its third year, the Kurdistan Iraq Oil & Gas conference brought together decision makers and prominent figures to discuss the major opportunities and challenges as the Kurdistan Region’s oil and gas sector undergoes rapid expansion.

The four-day gathering finished today, 4 December, with a visit of Kurdistan’s energy projects, which provided an opportunity to see the region’s potential and how the world’s last great onshore frontier is attracting the oil majors and meet the leaders and experts of the industry face to face.


As per KRG's agreement with the Iraqi government and under the 2015 Budget Law


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