Northern Iraq oil and gas

15 November 2011

Six key figures in the oil and gas sector of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region: Ashti Hawrami, Magne Normann, Thomas Watts, Gretchen Watkins, Orhan Duran and Todd Kozel

Ashti Hawrami

Position: Natural resources minister, Kurdistan Regional Government

Biography: Ashti Hawrami was appointed natural resources minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government in 2006 and was reappointed in October 2009 following parliamentary elections. Hawrami has negotiated the signing of more than 35 production-sharing agreements to the ire of the federal authorities in Baghdad, which insist they have the sole right to sign oil contracts in Iraq. Before joining the cabinet, Hawrami was chairman and chief executive officer of his own company, Exploration Consultants from 1999. Hawrami began his career in 1971 as an engineer at Iraq National Oil Company in Basra. In 1974, he moved to the North Sea to work for the UK’s BP, where he remained until 1982. Hawrami graduated with a degree in oil engineering from Baghdad University in 1971. He also has a doctorate in reserve oil engineering.

Contact Tel: (+964) 6 6220 0600

Magne Normann

Position: Business unit manager Kurdistan, DNO Iraq

Biography: Magne Normann is the head of Middle East operations for Norwegian oil producer, DNO. He has played a pivotal role in the company’s exploration, production and export of oil in the Kurdish region. Normann oversaw field exploration in 2004 as managing director of DNO Iraq, then the first international oil company to explore for hydrocarbons in the semi-autonomous region. Normann joined DNO in 1999 to establish operations in Yemen. Previously, he worked as operations director responsible for drilling units for Norway’s Smedvig from 1985. Normann moved to Smedvig from the US’ Mobil Exploration where he had worked since 1979, managing drilling activities. He began his career at Saga Petroleum of Norway in 1974 as a drilling engineer. Normann has master’s degrees in mechanical and petroleum engineering from the Technical University of Norway.

Contact Tel: (+971) 4 364 2620

Thomas Watts

Position: Projects manager, Crescent Petroleum

Biography: Thomas Watts is projects manager at the UAE’s Crescent Petroleum. Watts joined the Sharjah-based Crescent Petroleum in 1989 and was initially responsible for the company’s offshore gas processing platform and pipeline. He later developed Sharjah’s Gas Supply Project with National Iranian Oil Company, although the scheme continues to face delays. Watts has been central to securing contracts for two natural gas fields, Khor Mor and Chemchemal with the Kurdistan Regional Government. He has also overseen the construction of surface facilities to supply natural gas as feedstock for the region’s power stations. The company completed the construction of a gas processing plant at Khor Mor in January 2011. Watts is currently responsible for the appraisal of the fields and further projects in northern Iraq. He graduated in 1979  from the UK’s Birmingham University with a degree in mechanical engineering.

Contact Tel: (+971) 6 556 9444

Gretchen Watkins

Position: Vice-president of international production operations, Marathon Oil

Biography: Gretchen Watkins is vice-president of international production operations for US oil firm Marathon Oil. As well as overseeing operations in the Kurdish region, Watkins is responsible for the company’s businesses in Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Angola, Poland and Indonesia, among others. She joined Marathon in 2008 from UK oil major BP, where she worked as director general for BP Vietnam and China Exploration & Production. She also worked at BP’s corporate offices in London within the group marketing team. She began her career at BP as a facilities engineer in the Gulf of Mexico. Watkins has a degree in mechanical engineering from the US’ Pennsylvania State University. Marathon acquired stakes in four exploration blocks in the Kurdish region in October 2010, signing production sharing contracts as the operator of the Harir and Safen blocks.

Contact Tel: (+1) 713 629 6600

Orhan Duran

Position: General manager, Genel Enerji

Biography: Orhan Duran joined Turkey’s Genel Enerji in 2005 and immediately became involved in the Taq Taq project in Northern Iraq. He held various positions before becoming general manager of Taq Taq Operating Company (TTOPCO). He is also currently acting vice-president of Genel Enerji, responsible for corporate relations and communications. Since 2009, Duran has been responsible for coordinating projects with the Kurdistan Regional Government. Duran previously worked as director of international projects at state-owned Turkish Petroleum Corporation, overseeing projects in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Iraq, Algeria and Libya. He graduated from the geological engineering department of Istanbul University in 1974. Duran is a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the Chamber of Geological Engineers and the Association of Turkish Petroleum Geologists.

Contact Tel: (+90) 312 218 8400

Todd Kozel

Position: Executive chairman and chief executive officer, Gulf Keystone Petroleum

Biography: Todd Kozel is co-founder of the UK’s Gulf Keystone and is now the firm’s executive chairman and chief executive officer. The company was established in 2001 and listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2004. In 1988, Kozel founded Texas Keystone, an independent oil and gas exploration company, headquartered in Pittsburgh in the US, where he served as president from 1995 to 2004. He has been a director since 1988. Kozel co-founded another US firm, Falcon Drilling Company in 2001 and also sits on its board of directors. Gulf Keystone was awarded two production sharing contracts for the Shaikan and Akri-Bijeel blocks in 2007. In 2009, it acquired working interests in two other blocks for which exploration and appraisals are ongoing. In August, the company announced an initial assessment of approximately 12 billion barrels of oil.

Contact Tel: (+44) 207 514 1400

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