Iraq is seeking investors for a possible US$1bn upgrade of a petrochemical plant in Basra and may build a new US$2bn facility in the country’s northern or central regions.


The Basra plans involve a US$120mn upgrade of the existing 500,000-ton-a-year olefins complex, which may be developed further by investing US$1bn into the upgrade, Iraq’s industry and minerals minister Fawzi Al Hariri says.


“We are in discussions with international players,” Al Hariri adds.


Talks have been held with “Shell, Texaco and Dow Chemical”, Al Hariri says, adding that regional companies including Saudi Basic Industries Corp are also interested.


The ministry hopes to conclude negotiations as early as the end of the year.


“We are also considering a second facility, completely new, in a different part of the country. Maybe in the north or central region,” he adds.


That project would be worth at least US$2bn and produce about 1mn tons a year of ethylene and ethylene derivatives.


Gas feedstock for the complex would be sourced from existing gas resources, possibly by capturing associated gas that is currently being flared.


“We hope to start initial discussions by the year-end” with interested parties, Al Hariri says.


Both projects would be offered on a 50:50 joint venture basis.