High Representative Karwan Jamal Taher addresses the 3rd Annual MENA Investor Conference

London, United Kingdom (uk.gov.krd) Renaissance Capital, a leading emerging and frontier investment bank held its 3rd Annual MENA Investor Conference to present a macroeconomic update on the MENA with a dedicated roundtable on Kurdistan and Iraq.  

Given the Kurdistan Region’s energy potential, the session brought together the KRG High Representative to the UK, Mr Karwan Jamal Tahir along with the regional and international stakeholders to explore the political and security implications of the energy landscape in Kurdistan and Iraq. The session was opened with an introductory remark from Nikolas Stefanou, Oil & Gas Analyst at Renaissance Capital, followed by a speech from High Representative Karwan, underlining the KRG’s strategy for a well-functioning energy market and the role of International stakeholders in supporting these efforts. He said: “The Kurdistan Region aims to become a significant exporter of both oil and gas. Unfortunately, Iraq and the Kurdistan Region have undergone the most challenging time since 2014, enduring a series of economic, security, political and humanitarian crisis.”

He added: “We recognise the IOCs stance on sharing the burden with the KRG at a time when the Region has been fighting terrorism, enduring a budget shortfall from the federal government in Baghdad, and accommodating the Syrian refugees and Internally Displaced People, IDPs.”

On the security environment, High Representative Karwan assured the investors of the KRG’s top priority in preserving security and stability in the wider region. He said: “Economics and politics are intertwined and inseparable from security and stability for businesses to flourish. We have acknowledged from day one that creating a conducive environment for investors will require security and stability therefore we need to invest in that which is at the heart of our strategy.”

In term of the budget issue with the Federal government, High Representative Karwan highlighted progress with the federal Government over the financial matters. He said: “We have reached an agreement over the 2021 budget, but Baghdad has not released the KRG’s entitlement of the budget yet.”

Ahmed Tabaqchali , CIO at AFC Iraq Fund, Senior Fellow at IRIS also welcomed the budget deal between the two sides and said: “The key takeaway of the budget agreements is that the budget law acknowledges payments of KRG’s IOCs because in the past all budget was expected from the KRG to pay IOCs from its share which was not making any economic sense. That’s very promising in the sense that this particular acknowledgment begins maybe the process of repair of long outstanding issues between the two sides on the development of the fields.”

Gabriel Papineau-Legris, CCO at Gulf Keystone also contributed to the session. Gulf Keystone is the operator of the Shaikan Field, one of the largest developments in the Region. Gabriel said: “The key is really around the delivery of the stage expansion of this large field and we will continue to develop our strong relationship and partnership with the KRG and partners and look forward to seeing the right condition to support investments in the oil sector, but also in other Industries, as the economy grows further in agriculture and other sectors and see the region, flourish over the next decades.”

Additionally, ESA Ikaheiminen CFO at Genel Energy also participated at the session and stated that “What is critically important is corporation and aligned strategy, aligned objectives between the host government and the IOCs. I think the host government should take comfort from the fact that there has been consistent investment by the IOCs through thick and thin actually in the industry and that will continue to conditions remain favourable.” With regards to gas site, he said: “It is more about strategy and infrastructure rather than demand and buy and accelerating the gas Master planning for KRI would be priority.”

On the Kurdistan Region’s gas energy outlook, Dr. Patrick Allman-Ward-CEO at Dana Gas expressed his optimism about the future of the petroleum sector and particularly gas in the Kurdistan Region. He said: “Pearl Consortium is the operator of a very two large gas fields, Khor Mor and Chamchamal. Between them we believe that there is a massive reserve of 75 trillion cubic feet of wet gas with other substantial liquids. These are world class resources and we believe these are the biggest gas fields not only in Kurdistan but in the whole of Iraq.” He added: “It is an amazing achievement that despite everything that happened in 2020 from March onwards, all of the IOCs were paid on time and under very challenging circumstances, I think the government is doing a very good job.”

The conference’s panel sessions were live streamed here.