I INTRODUCTION

Having only recently become open to foreign investment in its upstream sector after years of sanctions, the Republic of Iraq is emerging as an important area of focus for international oil companies. While currently beset by a number of challenges, including low oil prices and ISIS activity, Iraq's combination of massive existing fields in need of redevelopment combined with significant exploration upside offers unique opportunities for companies that are willing to undertake the challenges of investing there.

This chapter provides an overview of the legal regime in federal Iraq as it relates to oil and gas investments, provides a brief update on recent updates in Iraq's upstream sector, and also provides a case study of the Basrah Gas Project, a recently completed project in Iraq's midstream sector that illustrates a potential framework for foreign investment in this important aspect of Iraq's petroleum industry.

II LEGAL AND REGULATORY FRAMEWORK

i Constitutional framework

The basic legal framework for the oil and gas sector in the Republic of Iraq is set forth in the Constitution of Iraq, which was approved by the Iraqi people by referendum on 15 October 2005 and entered into force in 2006. The relevant provisions of the Constitution provide as follows.

Article 111

Oil and gas are owned by all the people of Iraq in all the regions and governorates.

Article 112

First: The federal government, with the producing governorates and regional governments, shall undertake the management of oil and gas extracted from present fields, provided that it distributes its revenues in a fair manner in proportion to the population distribution in all parts of the country, specifying an allotment for a specified period for the damaged regions that were unjustly deprived of them by the former regime, and the regions that were damaged afterwards in a way that ensures balanced development in different areas of the country, and this shall be regulated by a law.

Second: The federal government, with the producing regional and governorate governments, shall together formulate the necessary strategic policies to develop the oil and gas wealth in a way that achieves the highest benefit to the Iraqi people using the most advanced techniques of the market principles and encouraging investment.

ii Draft oil and gas law

As referenced above, Article 112 of the Constitution of Iraq requires the enactment of a law to regulate the oil and gas sector. To date, however, no such law has been enacted.

In February 2007, an initial draft oil and gas law was approved by the Council of Ministers and later revised in April of 2007. Because of differences over the terms of the draft law, the 2007 draft law was never enacted.

A revised draft of the oil and gas law was presented to the Council of Ministers in 2011. Among its salient points are the following:

  1. the establishment of a Federal Oil and Gas Council (FOGC), which would act as the main body for overseeing the Iraqi petroleum sector. The membership of the FOGC would consist of:
    • the relevant Deputy Prime Minister;
    • the Minister of Oil;
    • the Minister of Finance;
    • the Minister of Planning;
    • the Governor of the Central Bank of Iraq;
    • a ministerial-level representative of the Kurdistan region (and any other region formed pursuant to the Constitution subsequent to the enactment of the oil and gas law);
    • representatives from each producing governorate not included in a region;
    • the heads of the Iraq National Oil Company and the Oil Marketing Company (SOMO) (and other relevant companies); and
    • up to three experts specialised in matters relating to oil and gas, finance or economics;
  2. the delegation of the following responsibilities to the FOGC:
    • approving petroleum industry policies, field development plans and pipeline plans;
    • endorsing regulations and guidelines for the negotiating and granting of exploration, development and production contracts;
    • endorsing models for exploration development and production contracts;
    • approving exploration, development and production contracts;
    • approving the funding entity and deciding on transfers of shares among holders of exploration, development and production contracts;
    • oversight of the Iraq National Oil Company, the Ministry of Oil and relevant regional authorities; and
    • setting production levels;
  3. the establishment of the Iraq National Oil Company, which will:
    • manage, operate and develop (through its subsidiary companies) currently producing fields;
    • participate in exploration, development and production operations within Iraq on behalf of the government; and
    • manage and operate pipelines and export facilities;
  4. provision for the relevant authority in the Kurdistan region (or any other region that may be established pursuant to the Iraqi Constitution subsequent to the enactment of the oil and gas law) to participate in petroleum related matters by:
    • making policy recommendations to the relevant federal authorities;
    • participating with the Ministry of Oil in the procedures for licensing rounds in the region (other than for currently producing fields and discovered but undeveloped fields located near currently producing fields);
    • cooperating with the Ministry of Oil in the supervision of petroleum operations within the region; and
    • attending negotiations conducted by the FOGC;
  5. provision for the entry of exploration, development and production contracts with private companies (both Iraqi and foreign), including principles for the granting of such contracts, and topics to be included in all such contracts, including:
    • establishing the principles of national control and Iraq's ownership of all petroleum resources;
    • an initial period of four years, with up to two extensions of two years each and additional periods to determine the commercial value of a discovery and evaluate discovered but undeveloped fields;
    • a development period of up to 20 years from the date of approval of the development of a field;
    • an obligation to develop a field development plan for each commercial discovery, submit the same for approval by the competent body (the Ministry of Oil, the Iraq National Oil Company, or the appropriate regional body) and endorsement by the FOGC;
    • a requirement that the Ministry of Oil will have the exclusive right to receive and market all produced petroleum, and transport the same through pipelines;
    • a requirement to give preference to the purchase of Iraqi products and services in petroleum operations;
    • requirements for the employment and training of Iraqi nationals;
    • a requirement to support Iraqi institutions in research and development activities relating to petroleum operations; and
    • observance of international standards with respect to the protection of the environment and the prevention of pollution; and other environmental requirements. Importantly, the draft oil and gas law does not specify the form that petroleum contracts must take, and thus leaves open the possibility that production sharing contracts may be permitted in the future;
  6. a clear right for licence holders to transfer profits outside of Iraq (after payment of relevant taxes);
  7. a requirement that petroleum revenues be 'distributed fairly among the people', as regulated by a separate law; and
  8. establishment of a future fund in which a percentage of petroleum revenues will be deposited to ensure the rights of future generations.

iii Law of Private Investment in Crude Oil Refining

Another Iraqi law relevant to the oil and gas sector is the Law of Private Investment in Crude Oil Refining (Law No. 64 of 2007, as amended by Law No. 10 of 2011) (the Refining Law).

The purpose of the Refining Law is to encourage private sector investment in Iraq's refining sector, and it specifically allows the private sector to establish crude oil refineries, possess, operate and manage their facilities, and to market their products.

Under the terms of the Refining Law, all applications by private sector entities to invest in the Iraqi refining sector and enjoy the privileges established under the Law are to be submitted to the Ministry of Oil, which will form a specialised committee to review such applications. The Refining Law also allows the Ministry to 'enter into contracts of any international common form in the field of refineries' (which should allow most of the typical foreign investment structures such as BOO, BOOT, etc., to be implemented) as well as to own up to 25 per cent of the refining company.

To encourage private sector investment in the refining sector, the Refining Law offers the following incentives:

  1. The Ministry of Oil is obligated to supply crude oil to the refining company at a price equal to the international FOB export price for Iraqi crude less a discount of 5 per cent; provided that the discount will not be less than US$4 per barrel or more than US$8 per barrel. The discount will apply for a period of 50 years.
  2. The refining company is entitled to sell its products both internally in Iraq and for export and to determine the price at which its products are sold in accordance with international market prices. The Ministry of Oil will have first priority to purchase all products produced by the refinery, subject to paying international market prices.
  3. The refining company is entitled to establish and operate stations for the sale of gasoline and other oil products.
  4. Although the refining company is not entitled to own land, the Ministry of Finance is obligated to lease the land necessary for the refinery for a period of up to 40 years (extendable) and at an annual rate of rent to be agreed by the refining company and the Ministry of Finance. The lease will be exempt from the requirements of the Law of Selling and Leasing Property of the State (Law No. 32 of 1986).
  5. The refining company is entitled to use public facilities such as export terminals and pipelines in accordance with a contract to be signed between it and the Ministry of Oil or other relevant ministries.
  6. The refining company is entitled to all of the benefits stipulated in the Investment Law (No. 13 of 2006), including:
    • a 10-year tax holiday from commencement of operations;
    • a three-year exemption on import duties for imported assets, with a subsequent exemption for spare parts and parts required for expansions;
    • the right to repatriate capital and salaries;
    • the right to open and maintain offshore bank accounts;
    • the right to employ non-Iraqis if the refining company is unable to employ suitably qualified Iraqi nationals (subject to a requirement in the Refinery Law that at least 75 per cent of employees must be Iraqi nationals); and
    • the right to provide for international arbitration in its commercial contracts.

In addition to the incentives noted above, the Refinery Law imposes a number of requirements on companies seeking to invest in the refining sector, including the following:

  1. all refineries must employ 'highly advanced technology', and heavy oil products cannot exceed 20 per cent of total production;
  2. the refining company must construct, operate and maintain a pipeline connection from the refinery site to the Iraqi crude oil pipeline network;
  3. the refining company is not entitled to trade in crude oil or in products produced by state-owned refineries;
  4. the refining company is responsible for ensuring the supply of electrical power and all other utilities necessary for the operation of the refinery;
  5. the refining company must submit periodic financial and technical reports to the Ministry of Oil in accordance with the form prepared by the Ministry of Oil and instructions issued by the Minister of Oil;
  6. the refining company must observe all laws and regulations relating to the environment and industrial safety; and
  7. as mentioned above, at least 75 per cent of the employees of the refining company must be Iraqi nationals.

iv Treaty network

Iraq is not a party to the 1958 Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the New York Convention), but it is a signatory to the 1983 Riyadh Convention for Judicial Cooperation (the Riyadh Convention). Under the terms of the Riyadh Convention, judgments rendered in one contracting state may be enforced in the courts of another contracting state, subject to the exclusions set forth in the Riyadh Convention.

III LICENSING

i Types of instruments and key licence terms

The principal contracts used for the licensing of petroleum interests in Federal Iraq are the technical service contract (TSC), which is used for the redevelopment of producing fields, and the development and production service contract (DPSC), which is used for the development of discovered but undeveloped fields.

Under both TSCs and DPSCs, the contractor is remunerated on the basis of cost recovery and a per-barrel remuneration fee. This represents a key difference between the contracts used in Federal Iraq and the production sharing contracts found in other parts of the world, where the contractor is remunerated on the basis of cost recovery plus a share of 'profit petroleum' (generally, the portion of petroleum production remaining after the contractor has received its allocation of cost recovery petroleum). The size of the remuneration fee varies between blocks, with producing blocks generally receiving a lower fee and exploration blocks generally receiving a higher fee. The remuneration fee also varies in accordance with an 'R-factor', under which a ratio of the contractor's cash receipts to its expenditures is periodically calculated, and as the ratio increases the remuneration fee decreases. Importantly, the remuneration fee does not take into account oil prices, which means that the contractor receives no upside from higher oil prices and it not exposed to downside as a result of lower prices. Its return is based solely on its ability to meet the production targets specified under the contract.

Under both TSCs and DPSCs, the contractor only becomes eligible to recover its costs and receive its remuneration fee once it has met the eligibility criteria specified in the agreement; provided that certain costs defined as 'supplementary costs' (which generally include signature bonuses, costs for remediation of pre-existing environmental conditions and de-mining, and costs for certain facilities as specified in the TSC or DPSC) can be recovered more quickly. For TSCs, the eligibility criteria are satisfied either upon achieving a specified level of production over a period of 30 days or the lapse of a specified period (generally three years) after the approval of a rehabilitation plan, while for the DPSCs the eligibility criteria are similar, except that instead of achieving a specified level or production the contractor is generally required to first achieve commercial production. Under both contracts, the eligibility criteria for recovery of costs and receipt of remuneration fees provide strong incentives for the contractor to achieve production targets as rapidly as possible.

Cost recovery and the remuneration fee are payable to the contractor in crude oil or, at the contractor's option, cash; provided that supplementary costs (as described above) are payable in cash or, at the option of the Iraqi partner to the agreement, in crude oil.

The term under both the TSC and the DPSC is generally 20 years, with an extension available in the event of any prolonged period of force majeure.

TSCs all generally provide for a plateau production target to be achieved within a specified period of time. Over the past few years it has become apparent that many of the plateau production targets that were initially contemplated in the TSCs are not practicable given the existing state of Iraq's oil export facilities and other technical and logistical impediments. Accordingly, the Ministry has been in the process of renegotiating the TSCs to establish more realistic plateau production targets.

TSCs and DPSCs are governed by Iraqi law, with disputes generally resolved in accordance with international arbitration.

ii Contract awards

To date, awards of TSCs and DPSCs in federal Iraq have been conducted through a transparent and open public bidding process conducted by the Ministry of Oil's Petroleum Contracts and Licensing Directorate (PCLD). Prospective bidders must pre-qualify with the PCLD before submitting a bid. Four licensing rounds have been held to date. Since June 2014, bids for a special licensing round involving the integrated development of the Nasiriya oilfield and a 300,000 barrel per day refinery have repeatedly been delayed but Iraq's Oil Minister, Mr Allaibi, has recently called for the administration delays offering the project to be reduced so that it could be restored.

IV PRODUCTION RESTRICTIONS

Iraq is a member of OPEC and has indicated that it will begin complying with OPEC production quotas at some point in the near future, although the date upon which it will begin complying and the production quota to which it would be subject have yet to be determined. Iraq's quota at the time of the first Gulf War (when it was officially excluded from OPEC's quota system) was 3.8 million barrels. The effect on the TSCs and DPSCs of any future agreement by the Iraqi government to comply with OPEC production quotas is unclear.

V ASSIGNMENTS OF INTERESTS

Under the terms of the TSCs and DPSCs, companies are not entitled to assign any of their rights or obligations to any person other than a 100 per cent affiliate without the prior written consent of their Iraqi counterparty. For these purposes, the TSCs also generally provide that a direct or indirect transfer of shares or other ownership interests constitutes an assignment.

Given that the TSCs and DPSCs have all been awarded relatively recently, there has not been much history to date of the government's approach to transfers of interests. Anecdotal evidence relating to the few examples where interests under TSCs or DPSCs have been transferred indicate a willingness on the part of the government to allow transfers, particularly where the proposed transferee is technically and financially qualified, but the government nevertheless retains broad discretion in choosing whether to consent to transfers of interests and in setting the conditions for its consent.

VI TAX

Foreign oil companies operating in Iraq are taxed in accordance with the Law of Income Tax on Foreign Oil Companies Working in Iraq (Law No. 19 of 2010) (the Oil Tax Law) and its accompanying regulations (Regulation No. 5 of 2011) (the Tax Regulations).

The Oil Tax Law provides that income earned in Iraq from contracts signed with foreign oil companies and their subsidiaries, branches and subcontractors working in Iraq in the field of oil and gas extraction, production and related industries will be taxed at a rate of 35 per cent. The Tax Regulations go on to clarify that the types of contracts on which the 35 per cent tax rate is applicable include:

  1. contracts for the exploration, development and production of exploration blocks and oil and gas fields (i.e., TSCs);
  2. seismic survey contracts;
  3. contracts for the drilling of wells;
  4. contracts for the reclamation of wells;
  5. contracts for well services including casing, cementing, stimulation, electrical logging and completion;
  6. contracts for surface installations of oil and gas extraction and production operations;
  7. contracts for water injection facilities;
  8. contracts for flow pipes;
  9. contracts for gas treatment facilities;
  10. contracts for cathodic protection;
  11. contracts for engineering surveys and quality control;
  12. contracts for the drilling of water wells; and
  13. other activities relating to the extraction process through the point of export.

Pursuant to the Tax Regulations, the Ministry of Oil is required to deduct 35 per cent from the revenues due to foreign oil companies, and the foreign oil companies are required to deduct 7 per cent of amounts payable to their subcontractors. All amounts so deducted are to be held on deposit by the State Commission of Taxes and reconciled during the final taxation process.

For matters not specified in the Oil Tax Law or the Tax Regulations, the Law on Income Taxation (No. 113 of 1982) will apply.

VII ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT AND DECOMMISSIONING

Iraq's principal legislation in relation to environmental issues is the Law on Protection and Improvement of the Environment (Law No. 27 of 2009) (the Environmental Law). The Environmental Law sets forth broad requirements relating to the prevention of pollution and the management of hazardous waste. It also imposes the following specific requirements on entities involved in the exploration and extraction of petroleum and natural gas:

  1. to take necessary measures to limit the dangers and risks resulting from petroleum operations;
  2. to take necessary measures to protect earth, air, water and underground reservoirs from pollution and destruction;
  3. to take necessary precautions to dispose of produced salt water through safe environmental methods;
  4. to prevent spills of oil and refrain from injecting oil into subsurface areas that are used for human and agricultural purposes; and
  5. to provide the Environmental Ministry with information about the causes of any fires, explosions, breakdowns, accidents and leakage of crude oil and gas from wells and pipelines.

In addition to the requirements of the Environmental Law, the TSCs and DPSCs contain provisions addressing environmental issues in petroleum operations, including the following:

  1. a requirement to conduct petroleum operations with 'due regard for the protection of the environment and the conservation of natural resources' and to adopt best international petroleum industry practices in conducting and monitoring its operations and take all necessary steps to prevent environmental damage, prevent harm to livelihood or quality of life in surrounding communities;
  2. a requirement to carry out an environmental study to determine existing environmental conditions within the contract area to serve as a baseline for determining any environmental damage that may be caused by the contractor;
  3. a requirement to carry out an environmental impact study to establish the likely effect on the environment from conducting petroleum operations and to recommend measures for mitigating the environmental impact of petroleum operations;
  4. prior to conducting drilling activities, to prepare a contingency plan for dealing with spills, blowouts, fires, accidents and emergencies resulting from petroleum operations;
  5. upon expiry or termination of the agreement, to remove all equipment and installations from the contract area pursuant to an agreed abandonment plan; and
  6. around the middle of the term of the agreement, to prepare a plan relating to site restoration, including a decommissioning plan.

Except in the case of gross negligence or wilful misconduct, all costs incurred in relation to protection of the environment or in remediating damage to the environment are cost recoverable. In addition, costs incurred in relation to remediating preexisting environmental conditions and approved in advance are also recoverable as supplementary costs.

VIII FOREIGN INVESTMENT CONSIDERATIONS

i Establishment

Foreign investors in the upstream oil and gas sector can invest through a foreign entity with an Iraqi branch. Establishment of a local entity is not required.

Under the terms of the PSCs and DPSCs, the entity designated as the 'lead contractor' is additionally required to establish and maintain an office in Baghdad.

ii Anti-corruption

The main legislation in Iraq with respect to anti-corruption matters is contained in the Iraqi Penal Code. Article 310 of the Iraqi Penal Code provides:

Any person who gives, offers, or promises a public official or agent [a gift, benefit, honour or promise thereof to carry out any duty of his employment, or to refrain from doing so] is considered to be offering a bribe.
Any person who mediates for a person who offers or accepts a bribe in order to offer, seek, accept, receive or promise such bribe, is considered to be an intermediary.
The person who offers a bribe as well as the intermediary is punishable by the penalty prescribed by law for a person who accepts such bribes.

Article 19(2) of the Iraqi Penal Code defines a 'public official' as 'any official, employee or worker who is entrusted with a public task in the service of the government or its official or semi-official agencies belonging to it or placed under its control'.

A person convicted of an offence under Article 310 is punishable by imprisonment for a term of up to 10 years plus a fine of up to 500 Iraqi dinars.

IX CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS

i Pending contract renegotiation

The recent significant decline in oil prices, combined with a need for Iraq to devote a significant portion of its budget to combat militants from the Islamic State, has created a significant strain on Iraq's budget. As a result, as has been widely reported in the industry press, officials from the Ministry of Oil have contacted their IOC partners and asked them to proposed revised terms to their upstream agreements that would result in greater cash flow to Iraq over the short to medium term. Among the proposals that have been floated to achieve this are (1) deferral of cost reimbursement, (2) linking remuneration fees to oil prices rather than calculating them as a fixed fee per barrel, (3) linking remuneration fees to cost reductions, and (4) reducing the cap on the percentage of revenues that can be used to pay cost reimbursement and remuneration fees to the IOCs, which currently is set at 50 per cent under most of the upstream agreements.

Other topics that may be discussed include adjustments to plateaus and contract durations, as well as increasing the participation levels of state-run Iraqi companies that have generally been decreased during previous rounds of renegotiations.

The renegotiation process has been delayed, and some of the previous urgency may have dissipated given the stabilisation of oil prices, but reports indicate that the Ministry of Oil would still like to engage with its IOC partners on these issues.

ii Case study – the Basrah Gas Project

One of the more notable recent projects in Iraq's upstream sector is the Basrah Gas Project, which commenced operations in May 2013. Set forth below is a case study of the project:

Strategic background

The principal goal of the Basrah Gas Project is to capture and utilise associated gas produced from three major fields in southern Iraq – Rumaila, Zubair and West Qurna (Phase I). Because of a lack of processing and transportation infrastructure, a significant portion of the associated gas produced from these fields (over 750 million cubic feet per day on average) has historically been flared. This not only represents a significant waste of a valuable resource, but also has a substantial negative impact on the environment. This adverse environmental impact is exacerbated by the fact that, because of the poor state of repair of the separators in the three fields, crude oil and other liquids are included in the flared gas stream, increasing the carbon content and resulting in the 'black flares' that are an all too common sight in the Basrah region.

Through a combination of rehabilitating the existing gas processing and transportation infrastructure and investing in new infrastructure, the Basrah Gas Project will reduce, and eventually eliminate, the flaring of associated gas from the three major fields. This will have the benefit of providing a source of dry gas for power generation and industrial development, capturing LPG and condensate (which will enable Iraq to become a net exporter of LPG), reducing costs currently incurred by the Iraqi government to import fuel oil for power generation and LPG, and reducing air pollution and carbon emissions.

Legal structure

Basrah Gas Company (the legal entity through which the Basrah Gas Project is being implemented) is organised as a mixed limited liability company under the Iraqi Companies Law No. 21 of 1997. A mixed limited liability company is a unique type of entity under Iraqi law that allows both public and private sector entities to be shareholders. Although the provisions allowing for mixed limited liability companies have been part of Iraqi law for a number of years, Basrah Gas Company is the first mixed limited liability that has been formed.

The shareholders in Basrah Gas Company are South Gas Company (a state-owned entity under the direction of the Ministry of Oil), which holds 51 per cent of the equity interests, and subsidiaries of Shell and Mitsubishi, which own 44 per cent and 5 per cent respectively. Management of Basrah Gas Company is overseen by a higher management committee with members appointed by each of the shareholders. Under Iraqi law, limited liability companies do have boards of directors, but the shareholders in Basrah Gas Company were able to create a body with analogous powers through a contractual agreement as reflected in a shareholders' agreement. Management positions are filled with appointees from South Gas Company and Shell, with an intention that as time goes on expatriate managers will gradually be phased out in favour of Iraqi nationals.

Following formation of Basrah Gas Company, and immediately prior to its commencement of operations, South Gas Company contributed existing gas processing and transportation infrastructure to Basrah Gas Company at an agreed valuation (as determined by an independent appraiser). The contribution of assets excluded rights to the underlying real estate, which was instead leased to Basrah Gas Company under a long-term agreement.

The contribution of assets was deemed to constitute a shareholder loan from South Gas Company to Basrah Gas Company in an amount equal to the appraised value of the assets. Going forward, Shell and Mitsubishi will be obligated to make capital contributions (in the form of shareholder loans) to Basrah Gas Company until their combined contributions are equivalent in value to the assets contributed by South Gas Company. After that point, all shareholders will contribute capital sufficient to fund Basrah Gas Company's capital expenditure programme on a pro rata basis in accordance with their shareholding percentages. All capital contributions will be in accordance with a work programme and budget that will be jointly developed and agreed by the shareholders in the manner contemplated by the Basrah Gas Company shareholders' agreement.

Commercial structure

Under the TSCs for the Rumaila, Zubair and West Qurna (Phase I) fields, the operators are required to deliver all associated gas that is not used for petroleum operations to South Oil Company, a state-owned entity under the direction of the Ministry of Oil. South Oil Company will transfer the associated gas to South Gas Company, which will in turn sell the gas to Basrah Gas Company under a long-term raw gas supply agreement. Basrah Gas Company will then process the gas and sell the resulting dry (processed) gas, LPG and condensate back to South Gas Company, which will then on-sell the products in the domestic market. Once LPG production in Iraq is sufficient to satisfy domestic demand, Basrah Gas Company will also be able to sell excess LPG for export. As the Oil Marketing Company of the Republic of Iraq (SOMO) has the exclusive legal right to export petroleum products from Iraq, Basrah Gas Company and SOMO have entered into an export agency agreement under which SOMO will act as Basrah Gas Company's export agent. The agreement also provides to the establishment of a joint marketing committee between Basrah Gas Company and SOMO to determine marketing strategy and act, in effect, as Basrah Gas Company's export marketing department.

Once gas production in Iraq is sufficient to satisfy domestic demand, Basrah Gas Company will also have the right (subject to certain conditions) to develop the first project to export LNG from Iraq. As with LPG, the LNG will be sold through an export agency arrangement with SOMO, and Shell has the right to purchase all of the LNG produced by the project's first LNG train.

Challenges

As a first-of-its-kind project, the Basrah Gas Project faced a number of challenges. Although the mixed limited liability format is recognised under Iraqi law, such a company had never been formed before. The transfer of state-owned assets into a company with private sector ownership also presented new issues, as did the lease of state-owned real estate and the capitalisation of Basrah Gas Company via shareholder loans. In fact, the list of 'firsts' that the project presented from an Iraqi perspective is so extensive that it would be beyond the scope of this chapter to discuss them all. But through patience, persistence and cooperation, the participants in the project were able to work through the myriad issues and develop a legal and commercial framework that should form the basis for lasting success. Importantly, the Basrah Gas Project should also serve as a template for other projects involving Iraq, particularly those that are contemplated to be structured as partnerships between state-owned entities and foreign investment and those that contemplate the refurbishment and expansion of state-owned assets.


Footnotes

1 Christopher B Strong is a partner at Vinson & Elkins LLP. The information in this chapter is accurate as of November 2017.