London-based real estate developer EPG International has been awarded a development and management contract for Iraq’s first oil and gas free zone at Khor al-Zubair in the south of the country.

The 11-million square metre Basra Oil and Gas International Free zone will be developed by London-based Basra International Oil and Gas Hub (BIOGH) in joint venture with the Iraqi Free Zone Authority (FZA), an independent authority under the Finance Ministry.

The development is located 35 kilometres from Basr and 15km from the Umm Qasr port. It will house facilities for the oil and gas industry, including industrial, warehousing, oil storage, commercial and residential accommodation. It will also include a dedicated customs zone and plans for future air transport facilities.

Under Iraq’s free zone law, any goods or equipment imported and exported from the free zone are not subject to duties or custom controls. Companies operating in the zone are also exempt from value-added tax (VAT), capital gains and corporation taxes. Offshore banking is also permitted and there are no foreign exchange restrictions.

BIOGH is headquartered in London, but has leased an office in Basra for operations. It plans to establish an office in Dubai for marketing and project management.

Coordinates have been agreed with the freezone authority. Early works at the freezone are set to begin in March, but a contractor is yet to be selected, according to Richard Cotton, BIOGH’s international marketing director.