Iraq’s cabinet has approved the award of a $363m contract to build a 1,014MW power plant at Baiji in Salah al-Din governorate to Egypt’s Orascom Construction Industries (OCI).

The Electricity Ministry now has the necessary approvals to sign the contract with OCI. “At present, we have received cabinet approval, but have yet to sign the final contract. [We] expect to sign in the near future,” says a source at OCI.

The gas-fired power plant will be constructed on an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) basis. Baiji is located 180 kilometres north of Baghdad and is home to the country’s largest oil refinery.

The facility will comprise six 169MW turbines. The ministry secured the turbines from Germany’s Siemens and are not included in the construction cost. The project is expected to be completed in 21 months.

The power plant contract has encouraged the Egyptian company to bolster its presence in Iraq. “[We have decided to] target Iraq’s infrastructure development programme, which has now become a key focus for the group,” said OCI in a statement. “As part of the expansion strategy, OCI has established a permanent branch in Baghdad to facilitate the pursuit of other major projects in the country’s programme, specifically in power generation, water, wastewater, hospital and large-scale oil and gas industries.”