Gas shortages are preventing Iraq’s Basra province from proceeding with industrial diversification projects, MEED’s Iraq Energy Projects conference has been told.

“[Current] gas production is not sufficient for Basra,” Sabah Albazzouni, a member of the Basra Provincial Council and head of law commission, told the MEED event on 26 February. “We want to export gas, but the internal need is greater. We firstly need to provide our projects in Basra with gas.”

The shortage of gas available currently is preventing Iraq’s energy hub from moving forward with efforts to achieve industrial diversification.

“Iraq cannot rely solely on oil, it should diversify and petrochemicals is one of the first industrial activities in the country,” said Albazzouni.

Albazzouni said construction on a petrochemical plant had been started previously, but that the project had been suspended due to the lack of gas available to power the plant.

Iraq is currently pushing ahead with major schemes to boost gas supplies. This includes the $17bn Basra Gas Project, in partnership with the UK/Dutch Shell, to reduce gas flaring and increase gas supplies for power generation.