Engineers from the State Company for Iraqi Ports have designed a new project to fit between Umm Qasr’s existing north and southern ports.

A spokesman for the Transport Ministry in Baghdad says the new site will have four quays, four stores and an administration building.

No estimated cost for the project or a timetable for getting construction under way has been given.

Baghdad recently decided to alter the timetable for a planned privatisation of Umm Qasr’s southern port.

One berth at the site has been leased to French shipping group CMA CGM on a one-year contract from mid-September.

The government is likely to pursue similar short-term lease agreements at other berths to ease concerns in Basra that the privatisation will mean relinquishing control of a national asset.

However, the ministry is still close to appointing an international consultant to oversee planning for the privatisation.