Iraq Oil Report's Daily Brief compiles the most important news and analysis about Iraq from around the web.

Coup tip a fake, official says

Babak Dehghanpisheh reports for The Daily Beast:

The arrests started last month and kept growing. First it was 200, then 400, and now more than 600 Iraqis alleged to be members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party have been rounded up and accused of plotting to overthrow the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. One reason given for crackdown was odd, even by Iraqi standards. A “senior official in the Iraqi government” told The New York Times last week that they had received a tipoff from an unlikely source: intelligence documents found in Tripoli after the fall of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi indicated that the Saharan madman was helping Baathists and former military officers in Iraq to topple the government, the newspaper reported. Mahmoud Jibril, the former Libyan acting prime minister, allegedly passed on the intelligence tip to members of the Iraqi government while on a visit to Baghdad early last month.

Now a senior Iraqi official tells The Daily Beast that in fact there was no Libyan tipoff. “The Libyans didn’t pass any information. This report is absolutely baseless and untrue,” says the senior official, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject. “This was a plan by the security to arrest people they suspect. It’s a precaution to mobilize in the streets in anticipation of the American withdrawal.”

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Iraq air traffic controllers prepare to fly solo

AFP reports:

Two months before a US pullout, Ali and Ahmed, both 20-something and Iraqi military air traffic controllers, are gearing up for life without their American trainers and, more crucially, US equipment.

For now, the pair voice confidence that they can do the job on their own.

But they will lack their own modern radar systems, as the nascent Iraqi air force is still working to establish key support systems to ensure airfields function without incident.

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Expro announces $12.5 million Zubair contract

Expro announces in a press release:

Leading international oilfield services company Expro has recently secured a contract win in the Middle East with Eni Iraq BV, lead contractor of the Zubair Consortium.

The contract, providing chemical analysis laboratory work, for the Zubair field in Southern Iraq, represents Expro’s first direct contract in Iraq and is recognition of Expro’s expertise in the provision of analytical services.

Running for the duration of three years with a possible two-year extension and worth in the region of $12.5 million, it also serves as an opportunity for Expro to enhance its relationship with the leading operator in the Middle East/North Africa region.

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Iraq death toll up sharply in October

AFP reports:

The number of Iraqis killed rose sharply in October, making it the first month since January in which the toll was higher than the same period a year ago, official figures showed on Tuesday.

A total of 258 Iraqis — 161 civilians, 55 policemen and 42 soldiers — were killed in attacks in October, according to data compiled by the ministries of interior, defence and health.

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Maliki orders Army to ban unauthorized demonstrations in Salahuddin

Alsumeria News reports:

Iraq Army 4th division positioned in Tikrit received an order from General Commander of the Armed Forces Nuri Al Maliki stipulating to ban demonstrations in the province if they don’t have an authorization from Iraq Ministry of Interior, a military source in Salahuddin Province revealed to Alsumaria news.

This command allows the army’s 4th division to ban demonstrations that did not seek authorization from the Interior Ministry, the same source added. Thus this command withdraws the power to issue demonstration authorizations from the local governor and takes away the right to deal with demonstrations and to secure the same from police forces.

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Iraq arrests more in wake of tip about coup

Andrew E. Kramer reports for the New York Times:

The government of Iraq continued to respond vigorously on Monday to a tip from the new interim leaders in Libya that former members of Saddam Hussein’s military and Baath Party were plotting a coup — so much so that critics are now saying that the information has become a pretext for arresting its political opponents.

As the overwhelming majority of high-ranking Baathists were Sunnis, the mass arrests by the Shiite-controlled government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is fanning sectarian tensions, just six weeks before the United States military is scheduled to withdraw its last soldiers.

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Iraq declines regional military training

AFP reports:

IRAQ has declined offers from Turkey and Iran to train its forces, after the failure of negotiations with the US on a post-2011 training mission, a high-ranking Iraqi official said today.

"Tehran and Ankara offered to train Iraqi forces, but we did not accept either due to the sensitivity of the situation," the official in the prime minister's office told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"We cannot accept one state without another," said the official. "We prefer that the file of training the forces be outside the framework of neighbouring countries."

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Iraq oil exports 2.088m bpd in October

Reuters reports:

Iraq’s oil exports were 2.088 million barrels per day in October versus 2.101 million bpd in September, the head of the State Oil Marketing Organization said.

Exports were 1.628 million bpd from the southern oil hub of Basra and 460,000 bpd from the northern fields around Kirkuk, which included 8,000 bpd sent overland by truck to Jordan, SOMO chief Falah Alamri said.

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WesternZagros sells first oil from KRG

WesternZagros announces in a press release:

WesternZagros Resources Ltd. (TSX VENTURE:WZR) ("WesternZagros" or "the Company") has received payment for its first sale of crude oil to the domestic market in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. First oil production from the Sarqala-1 extended well test was achieved on October 18, 2011, and first lifting occurred by truck today.

"Production start-up marks a new chapter in the Company's history, as WesternZagros takes its first steps to become an exploration and production company, rather than a pure exploration company," said Simon Hatfield, Chief Executive Officer of WesternZagros. "We are appreciative of the process established by the Kurdistan Regional Government's Ministry of Natural Resources, which requires pre-payment directly to WesternZagros for the contracted volumes. We also appreciate the close coordination with the Ministry in starting the test. Thanks to the diligence of our in-country operations personnel, the start-up was conducted in a safe, responsible manner and ahead of schedule."

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Iraq economic growth to rise to 9 percent in 2012

Aseel Kami reports for Reuters:

Iraq’s gross domestic product growth should rise to 9 percent in 2012 from around 6 percent currently, mainly driven by an expected increase in oil production and exports, a senior central bank official said on Sunday.

Iraq has some of the world’s largest oil reserves and is currently producing about 2.9 million barrels per day (bpd). High oil prices have helped the country earn billions of dollars more than projected this year.

“It will easily jump to 9 percent next year, it will not be difficult. If production and exports in the oil sector rise, it is possible to reach that figure,” Mudher Kasim, a deputy governor of Iraq’s Central Bank, told Reuters in an interview.

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