What has Qaiwan's strategy been to achieve such impressive growth? What are your targets for 2014? Will you face challenges in maintaining these numbers?
Qaiwan's strategy is to always be a first mover. We have demonstrated this in several sectors. We are the largest international oil trading company from the Region, our Bazian oil refinery is one of only two in the Region and is continuing to expand, and our development projects are unparalleled in Slemani and the wider Kurdistan Region. However, being a first mover means taking on increased risk. Risk and reward are inherently bound together, and fortunately, we have been successful in our management of risk. As a result, Qaiwan Group has grown very quickly in 2012 and 2013, posting over 100% year-on-year growth for both years. 2014 will, unfortunately, present increasing challenges. The economic environment in the Region is more challenging than in previous years, as political tensions in the Region and the broader Middle East are directly and indirectly affecting the business and economic landscape. However, we are targeting similar growth numbers to those that we have posted in previous years. Qaiwan Group always targets operations at the highest level possible, and we are in a position to overcome the challenges that 2014 is presenting.

Qaiwan Group’s expansion of its Bazian refinery is one of its largest current projects. Can you tell us about this expansion?
The third phase of the Bazian refinery expansion began near the end of 2011. We started by developing the concept and the front-end engineering design (FEED), in partnership with Technip, a French engineering firm. We have recently invited bids for engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC), to carry out the remainder of the project. This expansion will add a capacity of 50,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude distillation, which will increase total capacity at the refinery to 90,000 bpd. The plan includes an expansion of all of the units at the refinery, including development of a new gasoline processing facility. Our gasoline production facilities will include continuous catalyst reformer (CCR) technology. This technology is the first of its kind in the Kurdistan Region, and it will make our gasoline unit the largest in Kurdistan. Total capital expenditure of this expansion will be over $1 billion.

Qaiwan Group is also building a gas power plant at Bazian. Can you tell us about this project?
We have recently been awarded a contract to build a 750-megawatt (MW) power plant. We have signed the contract, and we are at the end stages of our preparations for the plant. We are currently partnering with an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), and have opened tenders for EPC contracts. The site preparation is in progress, and we target the completion of Phase One of the power plant by the second quarter of 2015. Phase One will establithe plant as single cycle. Once completed, the power plant will be upgraded to a combined cycle plant, which increases the capacity and efficiently of electricity generation. Phase Two, which will make the plant combined cycle, will be completed in 2016. The total capital expenditure of this project will be $600 million.

How has Qaiwan Group been so successful in attracting foreign partners for joint ventures? What has been your strategy in this regard?
Qaiwan Group is now beyond the level of just being a local company. In the late 2000s, Qaiwan initiated a strategy of spreading around the world, and opening several global offices. This strategy included connecting with many major players. Ultimately you must commit; you must perform at the best international standards to be recognized worldwide. Through this expansion strategy, we became able to effectively and easily reach our end users in our lines of business. Through this, global companies have recognized that we deliver results faster than others. When you are a reliable performer, and committed to your project, it is easy to find good partners.

Can you talk about Qaiwan Group's major development projects?
Qaiwan Group is a developer for many construction projects around Slemani. So far, we have completed Phase One of Qaiwan City, a 360-unit complex, and are nearly completed with Qaiwan City, Phase Two, which will include about 1000 units, 80% of which are already completed and filled.

We have also developed Qaiwan Towers. The project is the largest of its kind in downtown Slemani. It consists of two towers, with a mall between the towers. Commercial offices will occupy one of the towers. This tower is completed, and companies will be moving into the building soon. The mall is also largely completed. It is partially open, and will open fully soon. The second tower will house the Slemani Rotana Hotel. Our target is to complete the project in 20 months from now, in late 2015. This will bring the total development time to 28 months. The capital expenditure for Qaiwan Towers and the Slemani Rotana will be over $150 million.

Sulaymaniyah Heights is Qaiwan’s largest development project. Can you tell us about it?
Sulaymaniyah Heights is a premium, luxury housing and commercial development project located in the Azmar Mountains overlooking Slemani, to the north of the city. When it opens it is slated to be the most advanced development project, not only in Slemani, but in all of Kurdistan. The project will offer its residents the highest quality of housing that will be available in the Region, as well as a mall and commercial real estate. The development will house 2,200 units including houses and apartments. The capital expenditure of this project will be $500 million.

Finally, Qaiwan Group has historically targeted only premium, high cost, high profile development projects—Qaiwan Towers and Sulaymaniyah Heights illustrate this. However, Qaiwan Group would also like to develop Kurdistan in a way that benefits those in the mid-market economic bracket. Thus, we are developing a project that will be more affordable in terms of pricing, while still maintaining high quality, to serve Kurdistan's middle class. We have recently begun this project, called Qaiwan Heights Apartments. This development will also sit to the north of Slemani in the mountains. The project will eventually become an enormous 6,000-unit apartment complex. We have broken ground on the project, and it will be complete with residents within two years. We also have longer-term plans for major development projects similar to Sulaimani Heights in Erbil, but they fit into a longer timeframe for the company.

Qaiwan Group clearly has many high-capital projects. How does Qaiwan finance its projects?
Thus far, Qaiwan Group has self-financed all of its projects. Banking and access to finance in the Kurdistan Region is one of the biggest challenges to businesses here. Banks do not have sovereign guarantee in the Region, and must work through the Central Bank of Iraq, which provides them insufficient support. The major, global investment banks have historically had a limited presence in the Region. Fortunately this is beginning to change, with some major international banks openings branches here. Still, many are not active in a way that satisfies the major need in the Region for project finance. Improved financing will be one of the key needs for Qaiwan in the future, to continue to expand and continue our development. There has been limited talk of listing publicly on the Iraq Stock Exchange or Erbil Stock Exchange to finance our growth. However, these plans are probably a long way off. For the immediate future and for our current projects, we will likely continue to self-finance.

What has Qaiwan's strategy been to achieve such impressive growth? What are your targets for 2014? Will you face challenges in maintaining these numbers?
Qaiwan's strategy is to always be a first mover. We have demonstrated this in several sectors. We are the largest international oil trading company from the Region, our Bazian oil refinery is one of only two in the Region and is continuing to expand, and our development projects are unparalleled in Slemani and the wider Kurdistan Region. However, being a first mover means taking on increased risk. Risk and reward are inherently bound together, and fortunately, we have been successful in our management of risk. As a result, Qaiwan Group has grown very quickly in 2012 and 2013, posting over 100% year-on-year growth for both years. 2014 will, unfortunately, present increasing challenges. The economic environment in the Region is more challenging than in previous years, as political tensions in the Region and the broader Middle East are directly and indirectly affecting the business and economic landscape. However, we are targeting similar growth numbers to those that we have posted in previous years. Qaiwan Group always targets operations at the highest level possible, and we are in a position to overcome the challenges that 2014 is presenting.

Qaiwan Group’s expansion of its Bazian refinery is one of its largest current projects. Can you tell us about this expansion?
The third phase of the Bazian refinery expansion began near the end of 2011. We started by developing the concept and the front-end engineering design (FEED), in partnership with Technip, a French engineering firm. We have recently invited bids for engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC), to carry out the remainder of the project. This expansion will add a capacity of 50,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude distillation, which will increase total capacity at the refinery to 90,000 bpd. The plan includes an expansion of all of the units at the refinery, including development of a new gasoline processing facility. Our gasoline production facilities will include continuous catalyst reformer (CCR) technology. This technology is the first of its kind in the Kurdistan Region, and it will make our gasoline unit the largest in Kurdistan. Total capital expenditure of this expansion will be over $1 billion.

Qaiwan Group is also building a gas power plant at Bazian. Can you tell us about this project?
We have recently been awarded a contract to build a 750-megawatt (MW) power plant. We have signed the contract, and we are at the end stages of our preparations for the plant. We are currently partnering with an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), and have opened tenders for EPC contracts. The site preparation is in progress, and we target the completion of Phase One of the power plant by the second quarter of 2015. Phase One will establithe plant as single cycle. Once completed, the power plant will be upgraded to a combined cycle plant, which increases the capacity and efficiently of electricity generation. Phase Two, which will make the plant combined cycle, will be completed in 2016. The total capital expenditure of this project will be $600 million.

How has Qaiwan Group been so successful in attracting foreign partners for joint ventures? What has been your strategy in this regard?
Qaiwan Group is now beyond the level of just being a local company. In the late 2000s, Qaiwan initiated a strategy of spreading around the world, and opening several global offices. This strategy included connecting with many major players. Ultimately you must commit; you must perform at the best international standards to be recognized worldwide. Through this expansion strategy, we became able to effectively and easily reach our end users in our lines of business. Through this, global companies have recognized that we deliver results faster than others. When you are a reliable performer, and committed to your project, it is easy to find good partners.

Can you talk about Qaiwan Group's major development projects?
Qaiwan Group is a developer for many construction projects around Slemani. So far, we have completed Phase One of Qaiwan City, a 360-unit complex, and are nearly completed with Qaiwan City, Phase Two, which will include about 1000 units, 80% of which are already completed and filled.

Ultimately you must commit; you must perform at the best international standards to be recognized worldwide.

We have also developed Qaiwan Towers. The project is the largest of its kind in downtown Slemani. It consists of two towers, with a mall between the towers. Commercial offices will occupy one of the towers. This tower is completed, and companies will be moving into the building soon. The mall is also largely completed. It is partially open, and will open fully soon. The second tower will house the Slemani Rotana Hotel. Our target is to complete the project in 20 months from now, in late 2015. This will bring the total development time to 28 months. The capital expenditure for Qaiwan Towers and the Slemani Rotana will be over $150 million.

Sulaymaniyah Heights is Qaiwan’s largest development project. Can you tell us about it?
Sulaymaniyah Heights is a premium, luxury housing and commercial development project located in the Azmar Mountains overlooking Slemani, to the north of the city. When it opens it is slated to be the most advanced development project, not only in Slemani, but in all of Kurdistan. The project will offer its residents the highest quality of housing that will be available in the Region, as well as a mall and commercial real estate. The development will house 2,200 units including houses and apartments. The capital expenditure of this project will be $500 million.

Finally, Qaiwan Group has historically targeted only premium, high cost, high profile development projects—Qaiwan Towers and Sulaymaniyah Heights illustrate this. However, Qaiwan Group would also like to develop Kurdistan in a way that benefits those in the mid-market economic bracket. Thus, we are developing a project that will be more affordable in terms of pricing, while still maintaining high quality, to serve Kurdistan's middle class. We have recently begun this project, called Qaiwan Heights Apartments. This development will also sit to the north of Slemani in the mountains. The project will eventually become an enormous 6,000-unit apartment complex. We have broken ground on the project, and it will be complete with residents within two years. We also have longer-term plans for major development projects similar to Sulaimani Heights in Erbil, but they fit into a longer timeframe for the company.

Qaiwan Group clearly has many high-capital projects. How does Qaiwan finance its projects?
Thus far, Qaiwan Group has self-financed all of its projects. Banking and access to finance in the Kurdistan Region is one of the biggest challenges to businesses here. Banks do not have sovereign guarantee in the Region, and must work through the Central Bank of Iraq, which provides them insufficient support. The major, global investment banks have historically had a limited presence in the Region. Fortunately this is beginning to change, with some major international banks openings branches here. Still, many are not active in a way that satisfies the major need in the Region for project finance. Improved financing will be one of the key needs for Qaiwan in the future, to continue to expand and continue our development. There has been limited talk of listing publicly on the Iraq Stock Exchange or Erbil Stock Exchange to finance our growth. However, these plans are probably a long way off. For the immediate future and for our current projects, we will likely continue to self-finance.