ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq will start building a new oil refinery in the southern city of Basra by the end of 2018 with Japanese financial support, said an official from an Iraqi state-run oil firm on Saturday.
South Refineries Company is set to call for bids by December to build the plant as it hopes to start construction by early 2019, Director General Hossam Hussein Wali told the Japanese Kyodo news agency. Wali stated that Japan, which has already provided around 42 billion yen ($369 million) for the project, will increase official development aid to bring the total to over 300 billion yen ($2.6 billion).
In Sep. 2017, the Iraqi official visited Japan to meet with officials from the countries’ companies that aimed to participate in the bidding.
The two countries agreed on building the project in 2012, but construction was postponed following the emergence of the Islamic State (IS), which took control large swaths of territory in the country in 2014. Since then, many refineries were severely damaged or destroyed by the jihadist group, forcing Iraq, the second-largest oil producer in OPEC, to import gasoline and other petroleum products.
On Sept. 25, Japan's newly-appointed ambassador to Iraq, Naofumi Hashimoto, pledged in a meeting with Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leader Masoud Barzani in Erbil that his nation would help to modernize dams, sewage systems, electricity infrastructure, and agriculture in the Kurdistan Region.
In late March, the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) announced Japan's donation of $4.5 million to support Iraq emergency response related to humanitarian and stabilization efforts in areas liberated from the IS still littered with explosives.
In a statement, Ambassador Hashimoto's predecessor said that the assistance would come "as part of the new package of humanitarian and stabilization efforts to Iraq amounting to approximately USD 100 million. Japan is determined to serve displaced and returning people, refugees and host communities in Iraq, while supporting Iraq’s efforts for its development."
Editing by John J. Catherine