Due diligence a must for conducting business in Iraq

Iraq ClubTo discuss the reality of the operational environment in Iraq, its challenges and opportunities, the Iraq Club was held on 2 September 2015 at Dubai Marina

Iraq oil exports hit a record high in July this year, amounting to 96.3mn barrels and companies operating in the country say that the IS crisis is not directly affecting the economy of the country. With the world’s fifth largest proven oil reserves and an expansive need for infrastructure, why are companies still hesitant about investing in Iraq? And should they be?

This and similar concerns were talked about at the club, which helped bring forth an operationally focussed discussion on successfully doing business in Iraq by identifying opportunities, understanding the context and adequately mitigting the risks.

The drop in oil prices has hit O&G sector as well as related sectors hard and with a geopolitical crises looming over the region, Iraq may not be a first choice destination among investors. Having said that, existing companies are hopeful that with current government initiatives, and investment, the country could move towards development, Sarmad Al-Khudairi, general manager at Dutco McConnell Dowell, asserted.

He was among 60 attendees who participated at the meet to talk about opportunities in the country.

The panel session held during the event laid down how companies and stakeholders can mitigate the operationsal risks and play a greater part in creating a more transparent business environment.

In Iraq, it is critical to put in the right research. Undertaking due diligence is essential in avoiding possible risks and to ensure sufficient understanding of the legal procedures with respect to the project. These issues can be complex.

“Due diligence plays an important role in conducting business in any market, not least Iraq, and new companies need to be aware from the outset,” according to Zainab Al Qurwani, managing partner at QC Law Firm.

It is extremely important for companies to investigate and understand the current legal system before investing. “It is all about educating the companies so that they are prepared,” she added.

Leanne Case, founder of Iraq Club, noted, “The purpose of this club is to provide a forum for companies operating in Iraq to discuss the challenges and opportunities in a way that helps them to do more business and in a better way. The Iraq Club is more than a networking event, its an operationally focussed forum for doing business in Iraq.”

Norman Ricklefs, president of Iraq Advisory Group, said that with information being private in the country, a lot of emphasis is put on due diligence. “It is good to do your own background checks before initiating new business activities.”

Co-founded by William Wakeham, The Iraq Club was established in 2012 as a network to connect and creating better business. “What we have done at the Iraq Club is to put relevant people together to share ideas about Iraq.”

Companies that attended the event included Basrah Gas Company, Dutco McConnell Dowell, Manaar Energy, Veolia, Gulftainer, Wood Group and Khudairi Group, among many others.

An interactive and informative session, the organisers plan to launch further platforms, which would facilitate discussions on the operational challenges and result in real solutions in emerging energy economies.

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