Our Fifth flagship event returns to bring policy makers, government officials, experts, and investors together to discuss energy opportunities and strategies in Iraq, the region and the world.

14-17 September 2019

IEF 2018 Report

Press Release

In cooperation with

The Government of Iraq

WELCOME TO IRAQ ENERGY FORUM 2019

About Conference

On behalf of Iraq Energy Institute, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the 5th Iraq Energy Forum (IEF 2019), taking place in Royal Tulip Al-Rasheed Hotel, Baghdad, on the 14th – 17th September 2019.

Held in cooperation with the Government of Iraq, and in collaboration with the relevant ministries, the event brings together an exclusive line up of policy makers, government officials, industry leaders, experts, and the investor community.

The theme of IEF 2019 will be “Economic Cooperation for Middle East Peace & Prosperity”; as Baghdad strengthens its relations with its neighbours through diplomatic and trade ties, we will explore the impact of this strategy both within the Middle East and internationally in these politically tumultuous times.

IEF 2019 will address these and other key issues, including:

  • Iraq’s re-emergence after the war on ISIS and its position as a regional unifier;
  • Energy industry agility against global uncertainties and the role of OPEC;
  • The capacity of the energy sector in spurring synergies with the rest of the economy;
  • The rise of youth entrepreneurship and easing access to finance;
  • The role of technology driven innovation in creating a knowledge based economy and
  • Empowering women and ensuring their contribution to the economy.

We at Iraq Energy Institute are committed to creating a platform for professional dialogue where we can maximize opportunities inherent in some of the challenges facing the region and develop Iraq’s energy sector for the benefit of all Iraqis and the investor community in an open dialogue with the relevant stakeholders.

We look forward to welcoming you in Baghdad.

Professor Ali Sayigh
Iraq Energy Forum Chair
Iraq Energy Institute – Chairman of the Board

registration

Visa Applications

Use your invitation email as a supporting letter with your visa application. If you don’t have one, you may request an invitation letter by contacting us. The visa process will take 2 weeks.

Hotel Accommodation

Contact Mr. Helmi Salamin on rd@royaltulipalrasheed.com to secure your room at the Royal Tulip Al-Rasheed Hotel.

Access to Baghdad International Zone

You need to provide two Photo IDs on entry. Your name as stated on your passport or other official ID should be sent to us 4 days before the beginning of the Forum.

Remaining Agile in a World of Disruption

2019 has been a roller coaster for the energy markets. Rising political risk in key producing states and geopolitical turmoil has pressured prices from the supply side, combining with the effects of a lack of new supply following the investment collapse of 2014-2018. On the demand side, the impact of the so called “trade war,” has threatened prices, even as investment budgets make a welcome return, while general economic malaise has haunted the sector.
Topics: Economy, Energy & Global Geopolitics

Human Capital as a Long Term Investment

The idea of capacity building – strengthening institutions through technical assistance and training, often through the medium of short term courses and workshops, has come under more scrutiny in recent years. Studies of this form of development, which consumes as much as a quarter of the global aid budget, have found that in many cases, programs are designed without enough attention to local contextual factors. 
Topics: Institutional Development & Capacity Building

Breaking Rentiership Through Regional Economic Consolidation

During the war against Daesh, Iraq cultivated a foreign policy where the aim was to rally greater support from as many nations as possible to fight a common enemy: the world’s most dangerous terrorist organisation. 
Topics: Regional Integration, Economic Diversification & BRI

Finding the Right Balance in Iraq's Oil & Gas Market

Since the revival of Iraq’s oil and gas sector, starting in 2003, upstream has been Iraq’s most successful area in terms of attracting foreign capital, with production rising rapidly since 2009. Iraq has avoided the fate of a number of nations who succumbed to resource nationalism and collapsing production. 
Topics: Upstream Development, Refining & Petrochemicals

Iraq & the Global Green Revolution

In May, the Ministry of Electricity announced tenders for 755 MW of solar power, potentially heralding Iraq’s venture into a regionally growing sector. In the last decade, the price of installing solar power has fallen by 70%, but there remain some barriers to widespread adoption; as with any other power generation, contractual terms for building power stations have to be attractive and the wider marketplace, with productive subsidies and tariff reform, has to allow for economically sustainable Independent Power Producer (IPP) initiatives, over the long term. 
Topics: Natural Gas, Power & Renewable Energy

Iraq’s Economy Reaches a Turning Point: Facilitating Private Sector Growth

Challenges in Iraq are often seen as being related to one ministry alone or one sector. In fact, mobilising investment in Iraq to create jobs, improve human development and stabilise the country is a cross-sector, systemic challenge.
Topics: Investment, Finance & Private Sector Development

Women in Energy: A Force Multiplier

In Iraq, the energy sector as a whole employs hundreds of thousands of people, while sustaining many more indirect jobs. Globally, millions of workers across the sector power the world economy, yet the energy sector in many countries is one of the least gender diverse.
Topics: Women in Energy & Broader Economy

Iraq’s New Tech Entrepreneurs

Iraq’s tech hubs, from Fikra Space to Erbil TechHub and The Station in Baghdad have quickly outgrown their roots as co-working initiatives. These efforts have become the building blocks of new ventures, and foreign investors are increasingly looking at the next steps. 
Topics: Technology, Innovation & Tech Entrepreneurship

Unlocking Economic Potential via Connectivity

One of the success stories in Iraq has been the rapid adoption of mobile internet technology, which has pushed internet penetration from negligible levels a decade ago to well over 50%, while many more Iraqis have some form of access to the internet. 
Topics: Telecommunications & Technology

Bypassing Barriers Through E-Governance

Across the developing world, traditional governance structures are being disrupted and moving towards vastly improved efficiency, sweeping aside layers of bureaucracy through faster adoption of electronic governance, sometimes called “smart government.”
Topics: E-Government

Transitioning Towards A Sustainable Knowledge Economy

Iraq’s Education Ministries, developing private sector and public sector all have a role in shaping Iraq’s next generation to match the coming transitions in the 21st century. 
Topics: Knowledge Economy & Sustainability

Banking the Unbaked: Access to Finance

A decade ago, the majority of Iraqis were “unbanked,” fuelling an erratic cash economy and providing citizens with little financial security. This is changing fast thanks not only to digital mobile wallets, but major government programs that are making salary disbursal electronic. 
Topics: Access to Finance & Microfinance

Conference Schedule

Day 1 - Petroleum

08:30 Registration & Welcome Coffee
09:30 National Anthem & Opening Remarks
09:35 to 10:15 Keynote Speeches
10:30 OPEC’s Short Documentary (5 Minutes)
10:35 Plenary Session-1: Energy, Regional Economics and Geopolitics
12:00 Networking Coffee Break
12:15 Plenary Session-2: Upstream Development
14:00 VIP Luncheon & Networking
14:45 Plenary Session-3: Energy Diplomacy
16:15 Plenary Session-4: Natural Gas & Downstream Development

Day 2 - Electricity

08:30 Registration & Welcome Coffee
09:30 – 10:15 Keynote Speeches
10:30 Plenary Session-5: The Role of Multinational Companies in Powering Iraq 
12:00 Networking Coffee Break
12:15 Plenary Session-6: The Rise of Iraq’s Independent Power Producers
14:00 VIP Luncheon & Networking
14:45 Plenary Session-7: Renewable Energy Potential & Regional Interconnection
16:15 Plenary Session-8: Mega Projects’ Policies, Finance and Legal Framework

 

Day 3 - Education & Technology

08:30 Registration & Welcome Coffee
09:30 – 10:15 Keynote Speeches
10:30 Plenary Session-9: Technology, Telecommunications and e-Government
12:00 Networking Coffee Break
12:15 Plenary Session-10: Knowledge Economy & Sustainable Development
14:00 VIP Luncheon & Networking
14:45 Plenary Session-11: Entrepreneurship & Access to Finance
16:15 Plenary Session-12: Capacity Building & Women Empowerment

 

Day 4 - Economic Reform & Federalism

08:30 Registration & Welcome Coffee
09:30 Iraq Energy Annual Award Ceremony
09:45 – 10:30 Keynote Speeches
10:45 Plenary Session-13: Subsidies & Tariff Reform Initiative
12:15 Plenary Session-14: Policy Makers Debate Session
14:00 VIP Luncheon & Networking
14:45 Plenary Session-15: Economic Diversification & Industralisation Policy
16:15 Plenary Session-16: Federalism & Institutional Building
17:30 Closing Remarks & Announcement of IEF 2020

 

Supporting Organisations

Speakers

Adil Abdul-Mahdi

Prime Minister of the Republic of Iraq

Thamir Al-Ghadhban

Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Affairs
Minister of Oil – Republic of Iraq

Fouad Hussein

Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs
Minister of Finance – Republic of Iraq

Jamal Al-Adily

Minister of Water Resources
Republic of Iraq

Luay Al-Khatteeb

Minister of Electricity
Republic of Iraq

Naim Al-Rubaye

Minister of Communications
Republic of Iraq

Qusay Al-Suhail

Minister of Higher Education
Republic of Iraq

Fatih Birol

Executive Director
International Energy Agency

Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo

Secretary General
Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)

Hala Zawati

Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources
Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Joe Kaeser

President and Chief Executive Officer
Siemens

John Rice

Chairman
GE Power

Mohammad Abunayyan

Chairman of the Board
Acwa Power

Saroj Kumar Jha

Regional Director for the Mashreq
The World Bank

Ziad Daoud

Chief Middle East Economist
Bloomberg

Zaid Elyaseri

Iraq Country Manager
British Petroleum

Musab Alkateeb

CEO
Siemens Iraq

Jafar Oklany

Commercial Director
Shell

Sami Al-Araji

Chairman
National Investment Commission – Republic of Iraq

Adnan Al-Janabi

Vice Chairman of the Board
Iraq Energy Institute

Abbas Kadhim

Director and Resident Senior Fellow, Iraq Initiative
Atlantic Council

Matthew H. Tueller

United States Ambassador to Iraq

Bruno Aubert

French Ambassador to Iraq 

Juan José Escobar – Stemmann

Spanish Ambassador to Iraq

Paul Gibbard

Canadian Ambassador to Iraq 

Fatih Yıldız

Turkish Ambassador to Iraq

Eric Strating

Dutch Ambassador to Iraq

Ambassador

Name Undisclosed for Security Reasons

Saman Bojan

Area Director
Asiacell

Ali Al-Zahid

CEO
Zain Iraq

Ramon Blecua

Former EU Ambassador to Iraq

Alia Moubayed

Managing Director
Jefferies

Amena Bakr

Senior Gulf Energy Correspondent
Energy Intelligence

Ali Al-Saffar

Middle East and North Africa Programme Manager
International Energy Agency

Nisar Talabany

Member of the Board
Iraq Energy Institute

Yesar Al-Maleki

Managing Director
Iraq Energy Institute

Robert Tollast

Editor
Iraq Energy Institute

Anas Alhajji

Keynote Speaker, Author & Energy Markets Expert

Robin Mills

Chief Executive Officer
Qamar Energy

Zainab Al Qurnawi

Managing Partner
QC Law Firm

Samya Kullab

Senior Correspondent
Iraq Oil Report

Noam Raydan

MENA Analyst
ClipperData

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Banking the Unbaked: Access to Finance

Topics: Access to Finance & Microfinance
A decade ago, the majority of Iraqis were “unbanked,” fuelling an erratic cash economy and providing citizens with little financial security. This is changing fast thanks not only to digital mobile wallets, but major government programs that are making salary disbursal electronic. As these reforms move to the welfare system, the opportunity to streamline government finances, kickstart local economies and speed up e-commerce is immense.

Before this can happen, the banking sector must catch up. This is already happening to an extent as in 2019, a number of new financial products have been launched aiming at young entrepreneurs. Previously, access to finance has been a key weakness in Iraq’s business ecosystem, and new reforms look certain to improve Iraq’s World Bank Ease of Doing Business ranking. Iraq’s banks are also overcoming regulatory challenges that have haunted the sector.

IEF 2019 will examine the next stage of Iraq’s roadmap to a more efficient, regionally and internationally integrated financial system, and how this can have a positive cascade effect for Iraq’s stability and regional peace.

Transitioning Towards A Sustainable Knowledge Economy

Topics: Knowledge Economy & Sustainability
Iraq’s Education Ministries, developing private sector and public sector all have a role in shaping Iraq’s next generation to match the coming transitions in the 21st century. In the education sector, this is not just about reforming curriculums towards “digital literacy,” which is of course a challenge globally. Education practitioners on the cutting edge of development now speak of teaching children about the digital economy and e-commerce.

Nationally, the challenge must turn to the difficult task of reforming the curriculum and designing higher education programs to match what might be needed in a rapidly changing world. This needs significant investment, and ideally, can develop synergistically with the private sector, through more imaginative localization and corporate social responsibility programs.

IEF 2019 will explore how Iraq can overcome the roadblocks to these challenges as we enter the age of artificial intelligence, automation and smart governance, not just for Iraq, but for the wider region.

Bypassing Barriers Through E-Governance

Topics: E-Government
Across the developing world, traditional governance structures are being disrupted and moving towards vastly improved efficiency, sweeping aside layers of bureaucracy through faster adoption of electronic governance, sometimes called “smart government.”

In Iraq, this is still in the early stages after multiple projects aimed at ending legacy practices from the previous era, which have entrenched bureaucracy. But positive disruption is already here, with an increasing number of government departments transitioning to electronic payrolls and salary disbursal. Alongside this development, Iraq’s government departments can utilise data in ways never before possible, vastly increasing efficiency gains.

This not only has the potential to reduce corruption and eradicate waste, it also has the potential to kickstart the wider digital economy, which is still in its infancy. Indeed, in many countries the move to e-governance is now seen as being on the same pathway to digital economic growth.

Before this can go further however, there are important questions to address, for example, one of the historic problems with new e-governance programs is that they have not been planned with the right context in mind for the country of implementation.

IEF 2019 will explore the potential barriers to further rollouts of e-governance in Iraq, as well as opportunities to create synergistic benefits for all stakeholders.

Unlocking Economic Potential via Connectivity

Topics: Telecommunications & Technology
One of the success stories in Iraq has been the rapid adoption of mobile internet technology, which has pushed internet penetration from negligible levels a decade ago to well over 50%, while many more Iraqis have some form of access to the internet.

This has been enabled in part by the smartphone revolution, which has brought with it many technological “leapfrog” opportunities, starting with the growth of “e-wallets” for the unbanked and moving into the global app economy.

The benefits of this are obvious: According to the World Bank, GDP per capita growth can increase by as much as 3.9 percent after the introduction of broadband. As more young people explore the opportunities to be made in the digital economy, these benefits look set to grow and grow.

However, there are challenges ahead. The world is rapidly moving into another era of connectivity with the advent of 5G, and it is vital that Iraq is not left behind from the economic and social benefits this can bring.

To date, Iraq’s telecom sector has been held back by regulatory uncertainty. Unless Iraq can reform the investment environment to mobilise more investment in telecoms, there is a risk the country could end up on the wrong side of the global digital divide.

At IEF 2019, we will explore how the MENA region is moving into the next century of global connectivity and how Iraq can unlock this vast potential.

Iraq’s New Tech Entrepreneurs

Topics: Technology, Innovation & Tech Entrepreneurship
Iraq’s tech hubs, from Fikra Space to Erbil TechHub and The Station in Baghdad have quickly outgrown their roots as co-working initiatives. These efforts have become the building blocks of new ventures, and foreign investors are increasingly looking at the next steps. Entrepreneurs have created distinctly Iraqi tech solutions for Iraqi problems with companies such as Miswag, the online marketplace and Sandoog, a successful logistics solutions provider, cleverly adapting their platforms to overcome local challenges. This is the essence of modern digital innovation, but it needs further support to truly flourish. In any case, the roots of this ecosystem have been planted. Now is the time for it to grow.

As the region builds its own Ubers and Amazons such as Careem and Souq.com, the potential for creative disruption arguably has far more power than in the developed world. If trends continue, we could yet see a new opportunity to fight resource dependence, improving governance and displacing the economically statist models that have dominated the region for decades. IEF 2019 will seek to explore where the sector will go next, asking how this new disruption can help Iraq’s economic diversification.

Iraq’s Economy Reaches a Turning Point: Facilitating Private Sector Growth

Topics: Investment, Finance & Private Sector Development
Challenges in Iraq are often seen as being related to one ministry alone or one sector. In fact, mobilising investment in Iraq to create jobs, improve human development and stabilise the country is a cross-sector, systemic challenge.

In finance, the banking sector requires continued development efforts, although significant progress has been made since 2018 with international compliance standards, affirmed by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). This is a vital step in the fight against corruption and terror financing, but consistent implementation will be a challenge. In the near term, Iraq must accelerate efforts to tackle the problem of a high percentage of the population who do not have access to banking.

One way of mitigating this problem has been the rise of FINTECH, new applications (including e-wallets) or business models in the financial services industry, enabled by the Internet and Iraq’s rapidly rising mobile Internet penetration. This has been useful in public sector reforms (electronic payrolls) which have reduced corruption and accelerated private sector activity, but it is clear that much more needs to be done.

In this respect, FINTECH can be no substitute for general reform of the business environment, making it easier for young Iraqi entrepreneurs to borrow from financial organisations and the government to start business and reducing the bureaucracy which slows down investment, damaging the Iraqi economy. Many bureaucratic processes in place could in fact seriously hinder the ability of the government to focus on its core tasks, delivering services to the Iraqi people.

This situation urgently needs to change and processes must be simplified, particularly as the world enters a new era. Failure to reform legacy sectors, such at the State Owned Enterprise sector, could leave Iraq’s state dominated economy at risk of being a serious burden on the country’s finances. The task of reform is growing more urgent, as corporations around the world move into the so called Fourth Industrial Revolution, with greater automation of processes, while the expanding global middle class creates new centres of global industry. How can Iraq adapt quickly to take advantage of these global trends?

Human Capital as a Long Term Investment

Topics: Institutional Development & Capacity Building
The idea of capacity building - strengthening institutions through technical assistance and training, often through the medium of short term courses and workshops, has come under more scrutiny in recent years. Studies of this form of development, which consumes as much as a quarter of the global aid budget, have found that in many cases, programs are designed without enough attention to local contextual factors. Several conclusions are emerging: training and assistance has to be long term in order to effect meaningful change or at the other end of the spectrum, training has to be less ambitious. Secondly, any capacity building program has to be carefully planned in order to understand the political challenges that could impact, or even undermine, any progress. In other words, some have critiqued capacity building as being overly technical, when many problems it is trying to fix are in fact political.

At the current time, the success or failure of these programs will be critical. As much as 60% of Iraq’s population is below the age of 25 years, meaning that youth unemployment is a long term challenge that has to be tackled early. The current economic structure cannot continue to sustain a model of state provisioned employment. It is commonly agreed that innovation and entrepreneurship are the vessels for Iraq’s future generations for economic independence and a stronger private sector, so the question remains whether enough has been invested in building the human capital Iraq needs in the decades to come.

IEF 2019 will examine the current direction of capacity building in Iraq and the wider Middle East, seeking to understand how agencies engaged in training programs are adapting to the unique contexts of their operating environments.

Iraq & the Global Green Revolution

Topics: Natural Gas, Power & Renewable Energy
In May, the Ministry of Electricity announced tenders for 755 MW of solar power, potentially heralding Iraq’s venture into a regionally growing sector. In the last decade, the price of installing solar power has fallen by 70%, but there remain some barriers to widespread adoption; as with any other power generation, contractual terms for building power stations have to be attractive and the wider marketplace, with productive subsidies and tariff reform, has to allow for economically sustainable Independent Power Producer (IPP) initiatives, over the long term. Without these conditions in place, Iraq will struggle to take advantage of transformative technology that is increasingly affordable, which will help ease the problem of rapidly growing energy demand.

With solar, there remains the challenge of storing energy for spikes in demand and safeguarding grid integrity. But even this problem is now approaching a solution, with major investment in new forms of energy storage including compressed air energy storage (CAES), solid oxide fuel cells and flow batteries currently being developed to meet the challenge of variability in supply.

These developments will only accelerate adoption of this technology. For Iraq’s oil and gas industry the potential to free up barrels and gas shipments for export is immense, while for the electricity sector, the prospect of a green future, free of polluting and expensive generators, could become a reality. Growth of renewables in Iraq, may offer tremendous synergies.

Looking further ahead, new innovations such as microgrids could transform the lives of millions of Iraqis, circumventing one of Iraq’s biggest challenges, transmission and distribution repair and maintenance. Iraqis may finally disconnect noisy and costly neighbourhood generators, and opt for a sustainable alternative. A nascent manufacturing and service industry may evolve to employ hundreds of thousands of young people while offering a profitable market for Public-Private Partnerships. But before these possibilities can be unlocked, Iraqi policy makers and stakeholders in the industry have to be cognizant of what is on offer globally, to ensure Iraq does not get left behind in the global green revolution. As noted, the domestic investment environment, including high subsidies in the sector, must be reformed.

Meanwhile in gas to power, we have seen that real change is possible, as the Basra Gas Company, a venture which faced huge early setbacks, is finally striding forward and processing an increasing amount of previously flared gas, cutting pollution from flares and powering more Iraqi homes and businesses. This is also providing domestic LPG supply and exports for a growing global market.

Does Iraq’s recent success on the gas to power side provide any lessons for the challenge of renewable adoption in Iraq? How can that recent success become a stepping stone for greater gas utilisation? What are the wider constraints for Iraq in harnessing the green revolution? IEF 2019 will examine some of the opportunities, challenges and roadblocks ahead.

Finding the Right Balance in Iraq's Oil & Gas Market

Topics: Upstream Development, Refining & Petrochemicals
Since the revival of Iraq’s oil and gas sector, starting in 2003, upstream has been Iraq’s most successful area in terms of attracting foreign capital, with production rising rapidly since 2009. Iraq has avoided the fate of a number of nations who succumbed to resource nationalism and collapsing production. Yet, a key challenge has been to incentivise large scale private investment downstream.

Going  forward, terms of contracts should be carefully balanced to suit the needs of the Iraqi government and the investor. This applies to the megaprojects from gas capture and processing for power, to refining and meeting national petroleum product demand, to exploration, extraction, and transport of oil. Getting this right can free up billions of dollars of government investment that can be used for services, which will in turn have a positive impact on the stability of the oil and gas sector.  This could be seen as finding the right balance regarding the legal and contractual environment, one where everyone can benefit.  But the environment has to be equally good from the Upstream to the Downstream, as we have seen in the past, bottlenecks where there has not been enough investment in one area (such as storage, oil terminals or water injection) can suddenly impact the entire sector. This therefore becomes a wider issue of reforming Iraq’s investment environment, from contract terms to legal guarantees and the bureaucratic apparatus of government.

On the one hand, there has been the perception that Iraq, as one of the most attractive markets in the world for upstream development, can develop contractual terms to suit all of its oil and gas chain needs and that investors must adapt to government terms if they want to play a role in this lucrative market.

On the other hand, the price collapse of 2014-2017 has shown that contract terms weighted in favour of the Iraqi government have become a serious problem, as both investor and government struggled to adapt to unprecedented challenges in the industry. A similar situation has impacted the midstream and downstream sectors, where the demand for major new foreign investment is still pressing, but confidence in contractual terms and the working environment has not been high.

Iraq has modified oil contracts (in the Fifth Licensing Round in 2018) and has made several moves to incentivise investors to spend billions in refining, midstream infrastructure and petrochemicals, but are these legal and contractual changes enough? Two major milestones lie ahead, the prospect that Iraq may reach five million barrels per day, perhaps even six million and secondly, the target of reaching 1.5 million barrels per day of refined product for the rapidly growing Iraqi market. Regionally, refined product exports are on the rise with a trend of refinery acquisitions by Gulf region oil majors. Does such an approach resolve Iraq’s challenges given Asia’s refining overcapacity? IEF 2019 seeks to ask, what reforms in Iraq would benefit both the Iraqi government and IOC objectives as we enter a new decade?

Breaking Rentiership Through Regional Economic Consolidation

Topics: Regional Integration, Economic Diversification & BRI
During the war against Daesh, Iraq cultivated a foreign policy where the aim was to rally greater support from as many nations as possible to fight a common enemy: the world’s most dangerous terrorist organisation. As the challenge transitioned to reconstruction, this foreign policy approach became a feature of Iraq’s role in the Middle East, with attempts to position the country as an interconnected transport and energy hub and a unifier in a troubled region.

The net gain for Iraq’s neighbors supporting a sovereign, independent Iraq is clear: stronger economic and political cooperation across regional divides. This could usher in a new era of peace and cooperation in the Middle East, one that is completely unprecedented.

This regionalist possibility has a template: the birth of the European Union, which began as a coal and steel industry initiative between France and Germany after WW2 and went on to become a guiding superstructure for a continent no longer at war, creating  a peace dividend that has supported a Eurozone GDP approaching twenty trillion dollars. Iraq’s neighbors are the world’s major oil exporters with 30% of the global oil trade leaving the region annually, but this reliance on a single cyclic source of revenues has pressured them to prioritize economic diversification for a future beyond oil. Indeed, this may become an opportunity for economic consolidation across many sectors and beyond boundaries in a neighbourhood prone to conflict. Will Iraq’s newly found stabilising role become a vital driver of this process?

Likewise, the Middle East now faces another opportunity, as China revises key aspects of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) investing tens of billions of dollars in a region vital for its energy security. As long as these projects are sustainable for both sides and planned with careful assessments of future economic trends, the potential benefits for all could be immense. At the same time, the region is far from losing its relevance to Russia and the OECD countries and increasingly, companies from these nations are involved in the BRI. Iraq and the region now stand before a new marketplace of potential infrastructure projects, which leads us to the question of how these investments could jump start development in the region.

 

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Women in Energy: A Force Multiplier

Topics: Women in Energy & Broader Economy
In Iraq, the energy sector as a whole employs hundreds of thousands of people, while sustaining many more indirect jobs. Globally, millions of workers across the sector power the world economy, yet the energy sector in many countries is one of the least gender diverse.

This is a loss for society as a whole. There is now a wealth of evidence pointing to greater organizational efficiency and performance when women are a strong component of the workforce. Indeed, there is also strong evidence from many studies that highlights how organizations perform more effectively when women are in senior roles. The net gain for the economy, and Iraq’s stability, is very clear.

However, the challenge here is not only changing attitudes; action taken has to mean more than quotas or simply hiring more women. Instead, there has to be organizational change to ensure women feel welcomed, safe from harassment, valued and integral to an organization. In many parts of Iraq and in many other countries in the world, changing this dynamic would have a major force multiplying effect for business operations and economic stability, particularly in communities where the oil and gas industry employs many people, directly and indirectly. In IEF 2019, we will explore the experiences of women in energy and how to remove barriers to their greater participation in energy workforces. Moreover, women speakers will share their experiences in the energy sector as decision makers and how they see the role of women may alter and drive how this sector operates in the future.

Remaining Agile in a World of Disruption

Topics: Economy, Energy & Geopolitics
2019 has been a roller coaster for the energy markets. Rising political risk in key producing states and geopolitical turmoil has pressured prices from the supply side, combining with the effects of a lack of new supply following the investment collapse of 2014-2018. On the demand side, the impact of the so called “trade war,” has threatened prices, even as investment budgets make a welcome return, while general economic malaise has haunted the sector.

Lastly, the effect of US shale production has remained difficult to predict, with diverging expectations from the industry, ranging from a surge in new supply leading to another glut, to caution regarding ongoing cash flow problems for the majority of shale producers. With crude quality becoming a decisive factor, many of these issues remain in play as we enter the next decade.

At the same time, the industry has faced significant technological disruption, some of it for the better, with the continued rise of blockchain and smart contracts, helping producers extract more efficiency from the hydrocarbon value chain. This is only one technological adaptation the industry must make to ensure relevance in the age of artificial intelligence and big data.

The environment has also loomed large this year as we approach the 2020 deadline for International Maritime Organization sulphur standards, while governments across the world, now joined by conventional energy organizations, pour investment into battery technology, as renewable prices continued to fall. Scenarios for electric vehicle adoption and renewables penetration differ significantly, but it seems inevitable that the way the world consumes oil and gas is changing, as long term demand growth moves towards petrochemicals while the global power mix becomes cleaner in the age of the energy transition.

This has huge implications for planning and budgeting, so how can those whose livelihoods depend on the hydrocarbon value chain remain relevant in this changing world? If some technological advances remain uncertain, is the best strategy a bold expansion into new frontiers? Or, given how unpredictable the world has been in 2019, perhaps more measured, pragmatic moves are called for?

Likewise, is there any certainty in this changing picture? In IEF 2019, we feature some of the most experienced strategic thinkers and policy makers who have played a vital role working across the global energy sector, to discuss political and technological disruption in the years ahead.

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