“The new refinery is to be the largest in Iraq and to meet domestic consumption of light [oil] products, such as benzene, white fuel and gasoline,” says Hussein al-Shahristani.

Output from the refinery is expected to meet domestic consumption for several years with a small surplus for export, according to Al-Shahristani.

The world-scale refinery is desperately needed by Baghdad, which is spending billions of dollars importing refined products.

Its existing refining infrastructure is running at about half of its design capacity.

However, there are grave doubts about whether Nasiriyah can be built any time soon, given the acute security situation and the lack of finance.

The ministry held clarification meetings with contractors in Jordan earlier this year but talks are understood to have stalled (MEED 26:1:07).