Iraq intends to sign a final agreement this year with Royal Dutch Shell for the construction of the much-delayed Nibras petrochemical complex in the Southern port of Basra at a cost of around $8 billion, the Arab country's Oil Minister has said.

Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismail said Shell would control 49 percent of Nibras, one of the largest petrochemical projects in the Middle East and North Africa, while the Iraqi Oil and Industry Ministries would own 25 percent shareholding each.

"After a series of meetings with Shell representatives over the past days, we agreed to accelerate measures to launch this strategic project...we decided to sign the final contract with Shell before the end of this year," Ismail told Shafaq News agency.

He said Nibras has a production capacity of 1.8 million tonnes per year and its costs are estimated at nearly $8 billion.

The Iraqi Industry Ministry signed a memorandum of understanding with Shell for Nibras in 2012 but it was held up by fund shortages and internal hostilities.

Officials have said the project, which will turn the OPEC member into a major petrochemicals producer, will be completed within 5-6 years and will generate profits of around $90 billion during its 35-year operational period

(Writing by Nadim Kawach; Editing by Anoop Menon)


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