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Iraq’s Ministry of Oil and Ministry of Industry and Minerals held a series of meetings over the past week to kick-start the multi-billion dollar Nebras petrochemical plant development project, originally agreed in principle with Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) in 2012. According to Oil Minister, Ihsan Ismaael, the legal and contractual terms should be finalised by the end of this year. This sort of announcement, however, has been made before and no progress has been made, so it remains to be seen whether this time will yield a more positive outcome.
In broad terms, given its huge oil and gas reserves, Iraq could be a petrochemicals industry powerhouse and Nebras would be the perfect vehicle, under Shell’s leadership, to begin to realise this potential. For Shell, the Nebras project offers a natural synergy for the gas feedstock that comes from its 44 per cent stake in the US$17 billion 25-year Basra Gas Company (BGC) project. The BGC is designed to enable Iraq to increase its energy independence and to achieve economic diversification by capturing currently flared gas from the fields of Rumaila, West Qurna 1, and Zubair, in the first instance.
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