London-based Basra Oil & Gas International Free Zone (BIOGH) has awarded its first construction contract to the local Basra Mas Company for site clearance at the planned free zone in the south of Iraq.

The deal is the first contract as part of an anticipated 10-year construction period. Work began on 9 July on the clearance of a 230,000-square-kilometre area, with the option of another two sections of the same size yet to be agreed.

No contract value has been revealed.

The free zone project is being managed by London-based real estate developer EPG International, which says the site establishment camp is now in place and Basra Mas will carry out the site clearance for the customs zone area in preparation for new tenants.

This will be followed by perimeter walls and specific tenant buildings and facilities.

The development is located 35 kilometres from Basra and 15km from the Umm Qasr port. It will house facilities for the oil and gas industry, including industrial, warehousing, oil storage, commercial and residential accommodation. It will also include a dedicated customs zone and plans for future air transport facilities.