The Ministry of Natural Resources - KRG

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The Ministry of Natural Resources of the Kurdistan Regional Government is responsible for the development of natural resources in the region, in accordance with Iraqi Constitution articles 111, 112, 115 and 121, under the supervision of the KRG’s Regional Council for Oil and Gas, and in accordance with Kurdistan’s Oil and Gas Law (Law No. 22 of 2007), which entered into force on August 9, 2007.

The Ministry of Natural Resources is the sole authorized signatory of production-sharing agreements with companies willing to invest in the exploration of hydrocarbons and mineral resources in the region. The ministry is also the authority awarding licenses for transportation and storage infrastructure, hydrocarbons and minerals production operations as well as refining, petrochemicals and retail operations.

Ashti Hawrami was appointed Minister for Natural Resources in May 2006, and reappointed in the sixth cabinet on 28 October 2009 following the July 2009 Kurdistan Region parliamentary elections. He was reappointed in the seventh cabinet, on 5 April 2012.

Before joining the KRG cabinet, Dr Hawrami held several senior oil executive positions in the private sector. Born in Slemani in 1948, Dr Hawrami gained a bachelors degree in oil engineering from Baghdad University in 1971 and worked as an engineer in the Iraqi National Oil Company (INOC) in Basra from 1971 to 1974.

After moving to the UK, Dr Hawrami worked as an engineer on the North Sea in Scotland for the British National Oil Company from 1975 to 1982. In 1978 he was awarded a PhD in Reserve Oil Engineering in Scotland, and from 1982 to 1985 worked as a senior oil engineer for the company Intera in London. He was a senior engineer for an exploration consultancy from 1985 to 1988, and from 1988 to 1999 he was the proprietor and director of DUK, a limited liability UK engineering and services firm. In 1999 he became Chairman and CEO of ECL Group Plc. After retiring from ECL, he was appointed Minister of Natural Resources in 2006. Dr Hawrami is married with three children.

The Ministry is dedicated to the health and safety of the workers and citizens of the Kurdistan Region and throughout Iraq, and encourages the sustainable, long-term development of the country’s resources. Across the energy industry, local and international partners alike are encouraged to practice due diligence and employ safety, security and readiness procedures in their operations.

Environmental protection is safeguarded under three laws and documents in the Kurdistan Region: the Law of Environmental Protection and Improvement; the Oil and Gas Law; and the production-sharing contracts. They require companies to conduct environmental impact assessments before starting any commercial or industrial activities, and to compensate land owners for any damages to crops or the surrounding lands.

Under the production sharing contracts, the companies are mandated to contribute to an environment fund every year. They are required to meet international petroleum industry standards of practice and adhere to the Kurdistan Region’s laws to prevent pollution and protect the environment. This includes the protection of fauna and flora, property, agricultural areas and fisheries. Other obligations in the contracts include preventing environmental damage when constructing pipelines, and decommissioning or surrendering contract areas according to international petroleum industry standards of practice.

The Ministry has recently established a Health, Safety and Environment Department (HSED) to assume primary responsibility for the Ministry’s regulatory activities in these areas.

The HSED’s mission is to strive for the development of the Kurdistan Region’s hydrocarbon resources in a socially and environmentally responsible manner, to meet the growing needs of the local population. Its activities are aimed at protecting the Region’s environment (including its biodiversity, wild habitat and water resources) and promoting safe and environmentally sound practices in the industries regulated by the ministry, while encouraging the optimal exploitation of the Kurdistan’s natural resources. In particular, the Health, Safety and Environment Department:

– Regulates and monitors the hydrocarbons industry to identify and reduce unsafe and environmentally damaging behavior at all stages of exploration, development, production and rehabilitation;

– Supervises the industry to ensure compliance with the provisions of applicable primary and secondary legislations, accepted standards and guidelines for environmental protection and health and safety; and

– Develops and promulgates suitable instructions and guidelines on environmental and health and safety issues related to the exploitation of natural resources in the Region.

– Through such activities, the HSED will help secure the responsible development of hydrocarbons resources in order to achieve sustainable prosperity for the Kurdistan Region.

See the ministry’s Department of Health, Safety and Environment mission statement, principles and policies.

Read more in this article (PDF) by Dr Hallo Askari, the Head of the Department of Health, Safety and Environment.

Instructions and Guidelines

The Health, Safety and Environment Department has now finalized its first set of instructions and guidelines, which address Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of Petroleum Operations. The Instructions (titled “Instructions (No. 1) of 2014 on the Environmental Impact Assessment of Petroleum Operations”) set out the Ministry’s requirements and processes for EIAs of Petroleum Operations in the Region, and are aimed at ensuring that such Operations are designed, operated and terminated in a manner that minimises damage to the environment. Once these Instructions are officially published, no Petroleum Operations may commence or be carried on unless the Operator has submitted an EIA Report to the Ministry in respect of those Operations, in accordance with the Instructions and Guidelines, and holds a valid Certificate of Acceptance in respect of that Report.

Before finalizing the Instructions, the Department circulated a draft to the public and allowed a public comment period of thirty days in order to receive stakeholder feedback on the proposed EIA process. To our knowledge, this is the first time the Kurdistan Regional Government has allowed for public comment on draft legislation, and we are proud the Department is helping to set the standard for governmental transparency and public participation.

Additionally, the Department has created Technical Guidelines (titled “Technical Guidelines on Environmental Impact Assessments for Petroleum Operations in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq”), which are intended to provide general guidance and advice to Operators, companies carrying out EIAs, and the public in relation to the EIA process and procedures as described in the Instructions. Upon their official issuance, the Instructions and Guidelines will dictate the Ministry’s EIA requirements and processes.

Click here to see the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Instructions and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Guidelines.

Environmental CSR projects

We encourage the companies in the Kurdistan Region to carry out corporate social responsibility projects in their areas of operation, including environmental projects.

Talisman Energy since July 2012 has collected an estimated 1 million plastic drinking bottles from their field sites and offices, and takes them to a local plastic recycler where they are put through a process that eventually turns them into bio-degradable bags. As Talisman’s recycling programme grew, the company’s office personnel also went on a clean-up day at a popular picnic area on the way to their field operations. Read more about Talisman’s plastic bottle collection and recycling programme .

Marathon Oil has been helping to provide clean water to villagers by building a water well in Bestana village, and has set up rubbish collection teams to collect refuse from local villages near its area of operation. In Harir, Marathon is helping to beautify the town through a tree-planting programme. See pictures of Marathon’s community environmental projects.

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