Iraq’s 2023 budget that was approved by parliament last week includes funds for the giant 'Nibras' petrochemical project, an official was reported on Wednesday as saying.

The record $153 billion budget also focuses on the construction of other factories as well as houses, roads and the infrastructure, cabinet spokesman Bassim Al-Awadi said.

He told the official Iraqi news agency that these projects would turn OPEC’s second largest oil producer into a “busy workshop” in the next six months.

“One of those projects is Nibras…it is a large project that will turn Iraq into a major petrochemical producer and create thousands of jobs…this project is one of the government’s priorities in the 2023 budget,” Awadi said.

Nibras, a joint venture with Shell, is expected to cost nearly $8.5 billion and would have a production capacity of around 1.8 million tonnes per year.

Officials said last week the project, which is based in the Southern oil hub of Basra, would generate net earnings of nearly $1.4 billion per year and that Shell would own 49 percent of its shares.

The project will be completed within five-to-six years and will generate total revenues of around $90 billion during its 35-year operational period, according to the Oil Ministry.

(Writing by Nadim Kawach; Editing by Anoop Menon)