Iraq has signed a $6bn deal for the construction and operation of an oil refinery with a capacity of 150,000 barrels per day, a government statement said.
The statement on Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's website said he attended a signing ceremony for the deal between "the oil ministry and Swiss company SATAREM.""Today, we sign a contract for an important investment project... which will contribute (to) filling the country's need for petroleum products," it quoted Maliki as saying.
The statement did not specify whether the contract was an initial or final agreement, or if cabinet or parliamentary approval was still required.Contacted by AFP at its Swiss headquarters, SATAREM said no one was available for immediate comment.
While Iraq is among the top producers of crude oil in the world, it still imports billions of dollars of refined petroleum products every year.Crude exports account for the vast majority of Iraqi government revenues, and the country is seeking to dramatically ramp up its sales in the coming years to fund the reconstruction of its battered infrastructure.
Officials are aiming to increase production capacity to nine million barrels per day by 2017, a target that the International Monetary Fund and International Energy Agency have warned is overly optimistic.
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