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Iraq plans oil exports via $17bn development road

Iraq development road oil gas Reuters/Michele Tantussi
Prime Minister Shia Al-Sudani has advised Iraq's oil ministry to undertake a study on transporting oil and gas via the development road mega project
  • Backed by Qatar and UAE
  • May rival Suez Canal supply route
  • Fibre and power to accompany road

Iraq will undertake a new study to use its $17 billion development road from its southern region to Turkey to export oil and gas, prime minister Muhammad Shia Al-Sudani has said.

The oil ministry will prepare a consultancy study to integrate its projects for transporting and exporting oil and gas through the Qatar- and UAE-backed mega project, state-run Iraq News Agency reported, citing a statement from the prime minister’s office.

In April, the UAE, Iraq, Qatar and Turkey signed a quadrilateral cooperation agreement to advance the new route. 

The collaboration aims to link the Al-Faw Grand Port in Iraq’s oil-rich south to Turkey, thereby shortening travel time between Asia and Europe.

The development road will include fibre optic cable lines, oil and gas pipelines, and electricity and renewable energy transmission grids, the statement added.

The project aims to stimulate economic growth and enhance regional and international cooperation, increasing global trade and establishing a new competitive transport route.

The broader scheme, dubbed the “Dry Canal” corridor, will include a highway and rail line, directly connecting the Gulf states to Turkey. This will be allow for faster deliveries than that of ships passing through the Suez Canal.

If constructed as planned, the scheme could challenge the dominance of the Suez Canal, through which about 12 percent of global trade passes.

Recent disruptions in the Red Sea demonstrated the need for another supply route.

However, it will be difficult to handle the thousands of containers that the ultra-large vessels transport through the Suez Canal. More than 26,000 ships travelled through in 2023.

“The development road is not just a road to move goods or passengers. It opens the door to the development of vast areas of Iraq,” Farhan Al Fartousi, director general of the General Company for Ports of Iraq, said last year.

The project is anticipated to be completed in 2029 if work starts early in 2024, he said.

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