Iraq establishes oil and gas free zone at Basra

The director general of the Iraq General Commission of Free Zones, Dr. Sabah Al-Qaisi, said September 13 that the Iraq General Commission, under the auspices of the minister of finance, Dr. Rafi Al-Essawi, has entered into a joint venture agreement with Basra International Oil and Gas Hub Ltd. (BIOGH) for the creation of a specialized oil and gas free zone, at Khor Al-Zubair, Basra, in southern Iraq.

The specialized free zone, totaling 11 million square meters (about 118 million square feet), located directly adjacent to Iraq’s strategic Oil and Gas Khor Al-Zubair port, will provide a mixed-use site for manufacturing, storage, and servicing of the expanding requirements of Iraq’s petroleum sector.

The development will provide all of the benefits of a free zone for the oil and gas logistics supply chain and will include permanent residential accommodation and recreation facilities for users of the zone in a secure environment. The free zone will be entirely self-sufficient in terms of power generation, water, telecommunications, and waste management processing. The BIOGH Oil & Gas Free Zone will also provide all users with long-term agreements and a fast-track process for regulatory approvals.

Under the JV agreement, the Iraq General Commission of Free Zones will carry out all free zone administrative functions and together with the appropriate entities, facilitate on-site customs clearance and the provision of work permits.

Established in 2009 by J.M. Moore and T. O’Donnell, BIOGH Ltd. will be the developer of the project with responsibility for the construction and design, infrastructure, project financing, marketing, and management of the special free zone.

An economic impact assessment study for the project determined that the BIOGH project will employ approximately 10,000 Iraq Nationals over an initial period of 12 years with that number increasing during the life of the project, and will provide substantial economic benefits for the regional economy.

Dr.Sabah Al-Qaisi commented: “The creation of the BIOGH Oil and Gas Free Zone is the most significant investment contract entered into by the Iraqi Free Zones Commission. BIOGH will be the second-largest oil and gas free zone in the world, and it will greatly increase the free zone’s contribution to the economy of Iraq by attracting significant foreign direct investment and modern technology”

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