Iraq is close to signing a new gas import contract with Iran, according to Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Affairs, Hussain al-Shahristani.

The new deal cover imports to the south of Iraq, Platts news agency reports. Al-Shahristani said in September the pipeline delivering gas to the southern Basra province would be completed by March 2014.

The new agreement is in addition to a five-year deal for 850 million cubic feet a day (cf/d) of gas from Iran, which was signed in July.

The 225-kilometre, 48-inch pipeline for this gas is expected to be operational in November. It will run from Iran to the Mansuriya power plant in the eastern Diyala province, and then on to the Quds and Sadr plants in Baghdad.