Middle East

Middle East

Iran nuclear deal remains elusive


Disputes over attempts to probe Tehran’s alleged work on nuclear weapons are unexpectedly persisting, threatening plans to wrap up an Iran nuclear deal. Diplomats say at least two other issues still need final agreement. These are Iranian demands that a UN arms embargo be lifted and any UN Security Council resolution approving the deal no longer describes Iran’s nuclear activities as illegal. With few signs that Iranian or US negotiators are prepared to give ground, the high-stakes game of brinksmanship looks set to force a fourth extension of talks since the current round began 17 days ago.

Middle East

Kurds issue oil export threat


Iraq’s self-ruling Kurds are threatening to bypass the country’s central government and sell oil produced in the neighboring Kirkuk region in a dispute over revenue from crude sales by OPEC’s second-largest producer.

Middle East

Qatar Petroleum eyes foreign expansion after restructuring


Qatar Petroleum plans to expand overseas after a restructuring that included the takeover of its foreign investment arm and the firing of some foreign workers. “We are very ambitious internationally,” Saad Sherida al- Kaabi, chief executive officer at the world’s biggest producer of liquefied natural gas, told reporters Tuesday in Qatar’s capital, Doha. “We are focusing on the upstream business,” he said, declining to provide details.

Middle East

Coretrax builds on Middle East presence

Aberdeen-based oilfield service firm Coretrax has invested £1.25million in the Middle East after it opened its fourth office in the region in Abu Dhabi. The expansion comes after it launched a new cement placement tool to coincide with its participation in the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference. Coretrax said a team of four will work from the new base, and this is expected to grow to 14 within the next 12 months as it expands to another office and warehouse based in Mussafah, southwest of the city, later in the year.

Middle East

Iran lawmakers back bill on possible nuclear deal amid tussle


Iranian lawmakers approved the outlines of a bill that would ban inspections of military sites and require the lifting of all sanctions under any nuclear deal with world powers. The vote highlighted the continued strains between President Hassan Rouhani’s political allies and his hardline opponents. Rouhani’s critics have accused nuclear negotiators of showing too much leniency in talks with six world powers.

Middle East

Air Energi lands BP Iraq staffing contract


Air Energi has landed a contract with BP Iraq to supply personnel for its operations for the giant Rumaila and Kirkuk oil fields. The five-year deal is Air Energi’s biggest ever win in the region. The fields, which represent 40% of Iraq’s total production last year, are estimated to hold 20 billion barrels of reserves.

Middle East

Iran will seek to guard secrets in nuclear talks, Rouhani says


Iran will resist efforts to compromise its nuclear and military secrets as part of talks on the nation’s atomic activities, President Hassan Rouhani said. A nuclear accord “is within reach” provided the six countries with which Iran is negotiating make no “excessive demands,” the moderate cleric said Saturday at a press conference in Tehran. The extent to which inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency will be free to roam inside Iran is a sticking point for the talks.

Middle East

Iran said to plan better terms to lure foreign oil groups back


Iran, seeking billions of dollars to revitalize its ailing oil industry, plans to offer significantly better commercial terms to companies prepared to invest than offered during the last market opening nearly two decades ago. Foreign oil executives who have reviewed partial drafts of the new terms, called the Iranian Petroleum Contract, said they’re more generous than the types of deals used in the 1990s and 2000s. Unlike those contracts, which merely paid a set fee for the delivery of a project, the new agreements could give investors some share of a field’s production and allow companies to book more reserves on their balance sheet.

Middle East

Middle East could become “vital” to Scottish energy sector

Scotland-based energy firms will expect the Middle East to become vital to their operations in terms of market share over the next few years, according to a professional services firm. KPMG surveyed more than 30 senior executives from oilfield services and energy-focused technology businesses at a seminar in Aberdeen last week which highlighted business opportunities and risks in the region. The Middle East represents an enormous market for UK-based businesses in the industry with opportunities spanning oil and gas, power generation and renewables.

Middle East

Report to show Iran nuclear probe stalled


The UN’s atomic agency will be reporting a standstill in attempts to probe allegations that Iran is working on nuclear arms, in an assessment later today, diplomats have said. The International Atomic Energy Agency reports regularly on Iran’s nuclear programme, but the upcoming summary is particularly important because its investigation figures in an emerging deal meant to restrict Tehran’s nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

Middle East

McDermott International wins Saudi Aramco contract


McDermott International has been awarded a large brownfield contract by Saudi Aramco for the engineering, procurement, construction and installation of 12 jackets for offshore oil and gas fields in Saudi Arabian waters. The work is scheduled for completion by the end of the first quarter of 2016. The award is the second for the company from Saudi Aramco this year, and represents a work scope bud under an existing long-term agreement.

Middle East

Iran to axe motorists allowance for subsidised fuel


Iran is set to abolish motorists' allowance for heavily subsidised fuel and set a price, according to the country's deputy oil minister. The move is being made as the government makes careful steps to cut back on costly handouts. According to reports, Abbas Kazemi said petrol would now be sold at a single rate of $0.35 per litre.

Middle East

Questerre Energy signs MOU for oil shale acreage in Jordan


Questerre Energy has signed an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The agreement is for the appraisal and development of oil shale acreage in Jordan. It encompasses two blocks covering 388km in the Isfir-Jafr area, which is 200km south of the capital, Amman.

Middle East

Oil market shrugging off turmoil in Middle East


When Islamic State fighters in Iraq captured the town of Ramadi this week, just 80 miles (129 kilometers) from the capital of the Middle East’s second-largest oil producer, crude markets shrugged. Rather than the spikes that have historically accompanied geopolitical disturbances, oil prices actually fell that day. Elsewhere, Libya is on the verge of becoming a failed state and Saudi Arabia is waging an air war against rebels in neighboring Yemen. Again, the markets seem blissfully indifferent. The old certainty that oil prices respond sharply to geopolitical upset no longer seems the case.

Middle East

Wintershall pulls out of Qatar activities


Wintershall said it plans to give up its gas exploration activities in Qatar as well as closing its Doha office. The BASF subsidiary will return its licence to explore Block 4 North near to the Qatari coast. The company said it had made the decision as a result of limited access to local infrastructure.

Middle East

Qatar Petroleum set to announce restructuring plans


Qatar Petroleum is set to announce a restructuring plan in the next few months in a bid to adapt to the change in oil price. According to the head of its international subsidiary, Qatar Petroleum International, the change is being made at the "right time" for the company.

Middle East

Abu Dhabi pivots for Asian partners in $22 billion oil push


Abu Dhabi, with 6 percent of global crude reserves, selected GS Energy Corp. of South Korea to join Japan’s Inpex Corp. as the second Asian partner in the Persian Gulf emirate’s biggest onshore oil concession. GS Energy secured a 3 percent stake for 40 years in the venture, it said in a statement. Another South Korean company, Korea National Oil Corp., said it will provide technical support to GS Energy in the project. State-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Co confirmed the award Wednesday. Inpex won a 5 percent stake in the venture last month.

Middle East

UAE energy minister set to lead IPIC as managing director


The energy minister of the UAE (United Arab Emrirates) has been appointed managing director of the IPIC (International Petroleum Investment Company). The move follows a reshuffle of the board. Suhail Mohammed al-Mazrouei will take up the position, replacing Khadem al-Qubaisi.

Middle East

Attacks in Baghdad as security forces try to repel oil refinery targeted by IS


Attacks in and around Baghdad have killed at least 14 civilians, as Iraqi security forces repelled an attack by the Islamic State group on the country’s largest oil refinery, officials said. Seven people were killed when a car bomb exploded in a commercial area in the town of Mahmoudiyah, about 20 miles south of Baghdad, police said. The car was parked in a mainly Shiite section of town near a bakery and went off as people were standing in line to buy bread. Another 13 civilians were wounded in the attack, police said. Hours later, another car bomb exploded in a car park outside Baghdad’s Yarmouk Hospital, killing four civilians and wounding 10, a police official said.

Middle East

Iran nuclear accord talks hailed as landmark


Iran and world powers took their biggest step toward ending a decade-old nuclear standoff, saying they agreed on the main outlines of an accord after more than a week of grueling talks. The deal announced in Lausanne, Switzerland on Thursday doesn’t commit either side to immediate action, and leaves three more months for diplomats to fill in details. But by outlining areas of consensus, from a timetable for lifting sanctions to the repurposing of Iranian nuclear facilities, it brings the Islamic Republic closer than at any time since the 1979 revolution to international normalcy. President Barack Obama called it an “historic understanding,” and the International Atomic Energy Agency said it was ready to verify Iran’s actions. There were early signs, though, that the next steps won’t be easy.

Middle East

Iran nuclear talks run into eighth day as US says deal possible


Iran and world powers extended talks aimed at ending the 12-year standoff over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program into an eighth day with the US indicating progress toward an agreement. Diplomats negotiated all night in Lausanne, Switzerland and will reconvene at about 9:00 a.m. local time, US spokeswoman Marie Harf said. The US State Department said late Wednesday that enough progress had been made in meetings between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif to warrant continuing talks.