Islamic capital markets to witness unprecedented growth

Updated 29 July 2012

Islamic capital markets to witness unprecedented growth

Saudi Arabia has proved its potential in the capital markets issuance space in 2012, with a slew of high-profile sukuk issuances backed by the government. The single largest sukuk issue ever originated from Saudi Arabia in January 2012, worth $4 billion, by the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA). The Kingdom's sukuk market is now considered the third largest in the world after Malaysia and the UAE and is expected to continue to climb up the issuance ladder moving forward.
Also home to one of the most prominent Islamic finance institutions, the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), and the largest Islamic bank by assets in the world, Al-Rajhi Bank, Saudi Arabia's Islamic banking assets are currently worth an estimated $94 billion, making up 26 percent of the total Islamic banking market. This has made the Kingdom an important focal point in the development of the Islamic banking and finance industry as a whole.
The IFN Saudi Arabia Issuers & Investors Forum entering its first year in 2012 has already gained much support from prominent industry players from the GCC and across the globe and is set to be the biggest industry event in the Kingdom. The IFN Saudi Arabia Forum has created a new format for Islamic finance events, focusing on the buy and sell side, which we believe is where the industry needs to develop. This two-day event being held at the Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Centre will feature an Issuers day on Nov. 12 and an Investors day on Nov. 13, and will be structured around a series of exclusive regulatory country presentations, practitioner-led roundtable discussions, non-debatable power presentations, original case studies and sector focused side sessions.
The forum will feature prominent players from all over the globe, market experts and regulators to share their knowledge and expertise with the Saudi market, which is currently experiencing a major shift toward Islamic finance and unprecedented growth in its Islamic capital markets. It will explore the opportunities within the country for Islamic issuers, investors, and corporate and financial institutions.
Attendance, while free, is by invitation only and is open to those who register and have an active interest in this fast growing industry. Delegates are invited to register online at


Exxon faces setback in Iraq as oil and water mix

Updated 20 April 2018

Exxon faces setback in Iraq as oil and water mix

  • Exxon’s talks with Iraq on water project hit problems
  • Losing the contract could deal a blow to Exxon’s broader Iraqi plans

LONDON: Talks between Exxon Mobil and Iraq on a multibillion-dollar infrastructure contract have reached an impasse, Iraqi officials and two industry sources said, in a potential setback to the oil major’s ambitions to expand in the country.

More than two years of negotiations on awarding the US firm a project to build a water treatment facility and related pipelines needed to boost Iraq’s oil production capacity have hit difficulties because the two sides differ on contract terms and costs, the officials and sources told Reuters.

Unless the differences can be resolved, the project could be awarded to another company in a tender, the officials said, without elaborating on the points of dispute.

Losing the contract could deal a blow to Exxon’s broader Iraqi plans, as it would be handed rights to develop at least two southern oilfields — Nahr Bin Umar and Artawi — as part of the deal.

Exxon declined to comment.

Further delays to the project could also hold back the oil industry in Iraq, OPEC’s second-largest producer; the country needs to inject water into its wells or risk losing pressure and face severe decline rates, especially at its mature oilfields. As freshwater is a scarce resource in Iraq, using treated seawater is one of the best alternatives.

The Common Seawater Supply Project (CSSP), which would supply water to more than six southern oilfields, including Exxon’s existing West Qurna 1 field and BP’s Rumaila, was initially planned to be completed in 2013 but has now been delayed until 2022.

“The CSSP would be expensive and challenging but there’s opportunity here (for Exxon) ... to get access to resources on a very large scale and to achieve something and really make a difference to its own business,” said Ian Thom, principal analyst at consultancy Wood Mackenzie.

Many of the world’s biggest oil companies, such as BP, Total, Royal Dutch Shell and Eni, have operations in Iraq, where a low-return environment and strict contract terms have squeezed returns in recent years.

With total oil production at West Qurna 1 at around 430,000 bpd, Exxon’s presence in Iraq is small compared with dominant player BP whose Rumaila oilfield accounts for around a third of the country’s total production of about 4.4 million bpd.

While the Texas-based firm is looking to grow in Iraq, its geographical focus remains on the Americas, including US shale fields and Brazil, in contrast to rivals such as France’s Total and Italy’s Eni who have been significantly expanding their activities in the Middle East in recent years.

The talks between Iraqi authorities and Exxon are still ongoing, according to the industry sources and officials from the Iraqi oil ministry.

However the state-run Basra Oil Company (BOC), which is overseeing the project, said it could now tender the project this month in a parallel process with the aim of completing a first phase by 2022.

“We have this one approach but we can have another approach as well,” Abdul Mahdi Al-Ameedi, head of the Iraqi oil ministry’s licensing and contracts office, told Reuters.

Iraq chose Exxon to coordinate the initial studies of the CSSP in 2010. At the time, Baghdad aimed to raise its oil production capacity to 12 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2018, rivalling Saudi Arabia. That target has been missed and been cut to 6.5 million bpd by 2022 from around 5 million bpd now.

Negotiations with Exxon fell through in 2012 due to red tape and cost disputes. In 2015, the company re-entered talks with the oil ministry, this time in partnership with China’s CNPC and with the CSSP folded into a much bigger development project known as the Integrated South Project. 

CNPC did not reply to a request for comment.

For Iraq, going down the non-Exxon route raises two major concerns: How to integrate the project between the water treatment facility and the oilfields and how to finance the project, Thom said.

Two Iraqi oil sources told Reuters that taking the non-Exxon path would raise financing concerns for Iraq.

Projected costs of the scheme have not been disclosed, but engineering studies have put the cost of treating 12.5 million bpd of seawater transported to six oilfields at $12 billion.

The capacity has been revised downwards, with the first phase set to have a 5 million bpd of water, and in the second phase an additional 2.5 million bpd of water will be added for additional fields.