The day before oil giant Shell cancelled plans for a new $6.5bn petrochemicals plant in Qatar, the Iraqi government had approved a deal worth $11bn for Shell to build one in the southern oil hub of Basra (pictured), it has emerged.
Iraq’s industry minister Nasser al-Esawi told a press conference in Baghdad that the new Nibras complex will make Iraq the largest petrochemical producer in the Middle East when it comes on line in five or six years, Reuters reports today.
"The Nibras complex will be one of the largest (foreign) investments (in Iraq) and the most important in the petrochemical sector in the Middle East," Esawi told reporters.
A Shell spokesman told Reuters that Iraq’s cabinet had authorised the project on 13 January.Â
The day after, Shell announced that the Al Karaana petrochemicals project in Qatar had been axed because plunging oil prices had made the scheme "commercially unfeasible".
"Shell has been working with the Iraqi ministries of industry and minerals and jointly with the ministries of oil and transport to develop a joint investment model for a world-scale petrochemical cracker and derivative complex in the south of Iraq," the spokesman told Reuters.
Shell is one of the main major oil companies operating in south of Iraq, operating the Majnoon oilfield and leading the Basra Gas Company joint venture. It signed a memorandum of understanding with the ministry for the Nibras project in 2012.
Photograph: A view of Shatt Al-Arab from the northern part of Basra city (Aziz1005/Wikimedia Commons)