Basra News

Alstom to Develop Rail Projects in Baghdad, Basra

French company Alstom has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Iraqi government for the development of urban transport in Baghdad and Basra.

The MoU was signed during the Franco-Iraqi government authorities meeting, in the presence of Dr.Sami Al Araji, Head of National Investment Commission (NIC) of Iraq and Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, French Secretary of State.

The MoU covers two major projects. The first project is to implement a 20 km Elevated Train in Baghdad, with the supply of rolling stock, electromechanical systems, tracks, associated civil works. The light rail system would link Al-Mustansirya, AlShab, Al-Wazyria, Alsarafia AlEtafia bridge, Al-Khadumia, AlMuthana airport and Al-Alawi.

The second project focuses on the development of the Metro System in Basra, which consists of two elevated lines of approximately 30km each, 15 stations and one depot for each line from North to South, from Zubair to Shat Alarab and from East to West, from Karma to the Desert.

These projects would significantly contribute to the development of the country’s urban infrastructure and national economy.

“We appreciate the opportunity to develop industrial cooperation with the Republic of Iraq, in order to better address the country’s needs for urban transportation. Alstom is ready to bring its innovative technologies and sees the signature of this MoU as a first step towards the development of a long-term partnership with Iraq”, said Bernard Peille, Managing Director of Alstom in Western & Central Asia.

Alstom is already well established in the Middle East & Africa Region with more than 3,800 employees, 1,800 suppliers and present in more than 15 countries in the region with offices and joint-ventures in Algeria, Morocco, South Africa and Kazakhstan.

(Source: Alstom)

Jereh Enters Iraqi Oil Market with Integrated Solutions

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Basra Oil, Gas & Infrastructure is held under the high patronage of the Basra Governorate, the Basra Council and Iraq’s Basra Oil Company from October 30 to 31 in Beirut, Lebanon. Government officials, project stakeholders and buyers and suppliers attend to explore the expanding energy projects in the South of Iraq.

Jereh Group made its debut in the panel discussion about investment. It displayed integrated solutions covering investment, financing, manufacturing, EPC to turnkey delivery under the Belt and Road Initiative. The solutions facilitate the development of local infrastructures and boost the economic growth.

Authoritative reports show that Iraq is OPEC’s second-largest crude oil producer and holds the fifth-largest proved crude oil reserves in the world. And Iraq is developing its oil fields and expanding infrastructure capacity in the south to accommodate more production growth. Large-scale increases in oil production would also require large increases in electric power generation. Significant upgrades to the electricity sector would be needed. To achieve this, reliable partnership and excellent investment and financing solutions are needed.

Johnson Jiang, President of Jereh Mid-East Region, made a keynote speech in front of more than 200 participants representing Basra’s thriving industries. He shared Jereh’s best practice in oil & gas, power and environment industry and what it can bring to the local industries, saying that:

“The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative offers a unique opportunity for development and social progress among B&R countries. Jereh can provide flexible investment and financing mode to help Iraqi customers build a reliable and secure project. We also collaborate with global partners to provide customers with integrated solutions covering investment and financing, turnkey engineering, technical services and equipment manufacturing.”

Jereh is a preferred partner for the energy industry. Based on technology-driven innovation, a deep understanding of customer requirements, and unique expertise, it is committed to offering customers the optimal solutions and project execution. Jereh has been working with industry-leading International Oil Companies (IOCs) and National Oil Companies (NOCs) on turnkey engineering, well service equipment manufacturing, oilfield services and environmental management.

The company has a large number of implementation cases in Iraq and Middle East area in fields such as natural gas boosting and storage, nitrogen pumping, cementing and coiled tubing for oil production, and oily waste treatment. It also has extensive experience in delivering projects worldwide, supported by its local teams and abundant partners in more than 60 countries and regions.

With the support of Belt and Road Initiative, Jereh will leverage its experience to conduct more cooperation in a compliant way in Iraq and provide private-sector investment to assist in developing Basra to provide the infrastructure that’s vital to boost the economic growth,” said Johnson.

(Source: Jereh Group)

Fear of Extinction pushes Basra’s Christians to Isolation

By Saad Salloum for Al Monitor. Any opinions here are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

Shiites around the world celebrated the Arbaeen holiday Nov. 9. This year, Christians in Iraq participated in the Shiite ritual to attest to the coexistence and social interaction between the Christian minority and the Shiite majority in central and southern Iraq.

Youssef Touma Elias, an Iraqi Christian, took part in the celebrations and served the Shiite pilgrims who marched to the sacred shrine of Imam Hussein in the city of Karbala. However, this positive step by the members of the Christian minority conceals their deep fear and mistrust of the majority, who failed to protect them from the threats of extremists over recent years.

Basra has been a great historical example of cultural coexistence and harmony among its various religious components. However, it could now lose its rich religious diversity amid threats to its non-Muslim minorities. To preserve their religion and culture, Christian communities in Iraq have been isolating themselves.

On Sept. 19, a statue of the Virgin Mary was removed from the Abbasiya district in central Basra, as requested by Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Basra Habib Hermes. Hermes described the idea of placing this statue as an exploitation of a Christian religious symbol.

In his letter to the local authorities, Hermes pointed out that erecting the statue may lead to “undesirable consequences.” He added, “If a malicious person tried to harm this statue, the relationship between the different spectrums of the people of Basra would be destabilized.”

“About 90% of Basra’s Christians have left Iraq since 2003, and only 350 families remain,” he said, pointing to the declining number of the Iraqi Christian minority.

Iran Resolved to Establish Railroad Link with Iraq

The Iranian president’s chief of staff voiced the administration’s determination to construct a railroad linking Iran to the Iraqi city of Basra, saying the project would give a major boost to the transportation industry in the region.

Speaking to reporters in the southwestern city of Khorramshahr on Friday, Mahmoud Vaezi said various related bodies, including the Arvand Free Trade Zone and the presidential office, have decided to focus efforts on the establishment of the railroad to Iraq.

In addition to better services for travelers, the railroad would function as a regional corridor and bring a major change in the transportation industry, he added.

In February 2016, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had unveiled plans for railroad link with Iraq, expressing the hope that rail access to Basra would enable Iranian pilgrims residing in cities as far as Mashhad to travel to Iraq’s Karbala by train.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

Three-year Strategic Plan for Basra Oil and Gas

Provincial Council of Basra formulates strategic plan to contribute to effective management of the oil and gas sector

The southern Governorate of Iraq, Basra, now has a three-year strategic plan for oil and gas.

As a key pillar of Basra’s economy, this industry is supposed to employ thousands of workers and generate billions of dollars of revenue each year. Unfortunately, the industry is falling short of its expected developmental goals.

It has been assessed that the industry’s performance can be boosted through sound management and improved capacity and expertise. The Provincial Council of Basra is seeking to address this issue, in part, with its Committee for Oil and Gas.


  • Starting November 2016, UNDP worked closely with the Committee for Oil and Gas to develop the strategic plan
  • Amongst objectives of the plan is to generate employment, whilst considering related social and environmental impacts
  • The industry’s performance can be boosted through sound management and improved capacity and expertise

To this end, the Committee has formulated a strategic plan with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). This support was channeled under the Basra Compact agreement signed between UNDP and the Governorate of Basra in 2015 to provide the Governorate with technical assistance in major thematic areas, including strategic planning.

Starting November 2016, UNDP worked closely with the Committee for Oil and Gas to develop the strategic plan. In July 2017, the Provincial Council of Basra endorsed the first draft, and approved the final version for printing in September 2017. Hundreds of copies were distributed to relevant stakeholders in October 2017.

Chairman of the Committee for Oil and Gas, Mr. Ali Shaddad Al Fares, said:

“We believe in the importance of strategic planning to achieve comprehensive, sustainable development in all aspects of life. Given that oil and gas are the most important sources of Iraq’s national wealth at the present time, the Committee for Oil and Gas had to follow a scientific methodology in planning for the future of Basra.”

$100m Investment Doubles ICTSI Port Capacity

The International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) has signed the Expansion Agreement for the second major development phase of the Basra Gateway Terminal (BGT) in North Port, Umm Qasr, Iraq.

Two new berths will be developed incorporating a 20 hectare yard area thereby raising annual BGT container handling capacity by 600,000 TEU to a total of 1,200,000 TEU.

The berths will be configured and equipped with quay and landside container handling systems so as to be able to handle container vessels of up to 10,000TEU. Combined with the adjacent Berth 27, it will offer a continuous berthing line of 600m.

Enrique K. Razon Jr, Chairman & President, noted:

This new USD100 million investment follows hot on the heels of ICTSI’s development of Berth 27 and the rehabilitation and upgrade of berths 19, 20 & 21, a USD150 million investment. Our commitment to provide international standard port facilities and services in Iraq is plain to see.

“It also represents the fruit of a positive working relationship with the Iraq Ministry of Transport, General Company for Ports of Iraq (GCPI) and Governorate of Basra as well as other government agencies.

“This combined effort will, when the new facilities are completed in 18 months time, deliver the new facilities that are essential to support Iraq’s key economic objectives including the resurgence of the non-oil economy.

Other signatories to the Expansion Agreement were: Chief Riyadh, GCPI Director, and Eng. Ali Kh. Khalaf, Basra Mas CEO.

The new USD100 million investment will be undertaken by ICTSI subsidiary BGT with construction scheduled to start immediately.

Phillip Marsham, BGT CEO, underlined that the new development will facilitate the desire of ship-owners to introduce larger capacity vessels into the port of Umm Qasr:

“Since we commenced operations at the North Port, Umm Qasr, we have striven to meet the new requirements of ship owners and deliver international standard services. The development of Berth 27, formally inaugurated in October 2016, represented enormous progress in this respect and the current expansion project will consolidate and expand this important work. Like other ports worldwide, Umm Qasr is now facing the challenge of handling larger size vessels.”

When fully developed, Berths 25, 26 and 27 will offer a continuous 600m berthing line and 50 hectares of yard area. The new container handling systems will work in conjunction with state-of-the-art terminal operating systems and benefit from ongoing staff training and continuous improvement of systems.

Hans-Ole Madsen, ICTSI Senior Vice President, Europe, Middle East and Africa emphasized:

BGT has raised the bar in container handling service in Umm Qasr and Iraq as a whole. The new berths will, through both capacity expansion and the installation of modern infrastructure and handling systems, open the door to even higher levels of efficiency.

“BGT is unique in undertaking hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in Umm Qasr and as a result is able to progressively deliver a superior service to the benefit of Iraqi cargo owners, shipping lines and the Iraq economy as a whole.

(Source: ICTSI)

Data Portfolios Available for Basra Refinery

The Ministry of Oil has announced the availability of data portfoliso to develop the Basrah refinery.

The closing date of selling data portfolios is at the end of the work hours of Sunday the 19th of November 2017, and the receipt of the documents from the companies which would like to fund and execute the above mentioned project must be to the end of the work hours of Thursday the 4th of January 2018.

More details here.

The presentation of the documents should be to the studies, planning & follow-up directorate directly or via the Emails:    or

(Source: Ministry of Oil)

Nokia to Improve Zain Iraq’s Network

Finland’s Nokia will modernize and expand Zain Iraq‘s radio networks with its most advanced technologies across Karbala, Najaf and Basra, with a special focus on the holy cities of Karbala and Najaf, to support the expected increase in data and voice traffic during Zeyara as millions of people converge on the region.

Zeyara is an annual event in the holy city of Karbala, which culminates in the event of Al Arba’een. It attracts visitors from across the globe and is one of the world’s largest public gatherings.

Once completed, the upgrade will allow users to enjoy improved indoor and outdoor coverage in both urban and rural areas as well as increased data throughput, leading to an overall superior customer experience.

Nokia’s project management and proven services expertise will be used to expand and modernize Zain Iraq’s 2G and 3G network, providing ubiquitous coverage and faster mobile broadband.

Additionally, the Nokia Mass Event Handler will be deployed to address the surge in data and voice consumption expected during Zeyara. The network modernization will allow visitors to remain continuously connected with their loved ones through superior voice and data connectivity during Al Arba’een and beyond.

Ali Al-Zahid, Chief Executive Officer of Zain Iraq, said:

Our top priority is to provide superior services for our subscribers. This network modernization and expansion is only the beginning of providing the best possible service quality and coverage with the most advanced technologies across the overall Karbala and Najaf and rest of sourthern region.

“We selected Nokia, our longstanding technology partner, for this important project, as we are confident that its advanced technologies will enable our network to provide such superior services. The current project will also enable a best-in-class mobile experience for visitors to Zeyara when we expect a high turnout this year.

Bernard Najm, head of the Middle East Market Unit at Nokia, said:

“Nokia fully understands Zain Iraq’s requirements and is committed to providing leading technologies to enable pioneering services for its subscribers. Nokia’s solutions cater to the unique connectivity requirements of mass events, and will help Zain Iraq address the expected surge in data and voice consumption during Zeyara.”

Overview of the solutions:

  • The high capacity and energy-efficient Nokia Flexi Multiradio 10 Base Station will be used to add the third carrier of 5 MHz on the 900 MHz band, to enhance capacity and increase coverage in suburban and rural areas.
  • Nokia’s Mass Event Handler will ensure network performance is not adversely affected because of heavy traffic during Zeyara. Another feature of the software – HSUPA Interference Cancellation – handles data more efficiently, enabling end users to upload pictures without any network glitch.
  • Nokia FlexiZone will be deployed to enhance coverage and capacity of the existing 3G network in Karbala.
  • Nokia’s refarming service will refarm GSM 900 MHz frequency to expand the operator’s 3G network.
  • Nokia’s NetAct virtualized network management software will provide robust capabilities for troubleshooting, assurance, administration, software management and configuration.
  • Nokia’s Network Planning and Optimization (NPO), Network Implementation , and Care services will ensure smooth execution of the project and maximize the return on Zain’s technology investments.

(Source: Nokia)

In Basra, Fighting Rising Temperatures With Trees

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

To fight climate change in Basra, where summer temperatures now regularly rise to over 50 degrees Centigrade, locals plan to plant 16 million trees. The volunteers are on course for 1 million in 2017.

In the southern Iraqi city of Basra, locals are taking matters into their own hands to fight climate change. “In recent years temperatures in Basra have exceeded 50 degrees Centigrade,” explains Alaa Hashim al-Badran, head of the union of agricultural engineers in Basra. “And that is dangerous.”

The ramifications of ongoing climate change mean that the city and its inhabitants may face even higher temperatures in the future. To try and ameliorate the impact, locals have started planting trees. They intend to have planted a million of them shortly, and 16 million in the next few years.

Al-Badran says the idea for a tree-planting campaign was first suggested in the middle of the year and has since progressed rapidly. There are a hundred volunteers and over 15,000 supporters online, he notes, and in the near future, there should be even more people involved.

Citing the example of successful tree planting in Gulf Arab countries, al-Badran and his colleagues believe this may be one of the only ways to prevent Basra from deadly over-heating.



“Over the next few years we plan to plant 16 million trees here,” he told NIQASH. “The first phase starts in September and goes until mid-November. Then we will start again in mid-February and carry on until mid-April next year. The first objective is to plant 1 million trees.”

Hutchison Ports Partnering with Iraq Terminal Operator

Hutchison Ports and the Pritzker Family Business Interests (“PFBI”), advised by The Pritzker Organization, L.L.C. (“TPO”), announced today that the leading Hong Kong-based port operator has agreed to partner with NAWAH Port Management, L.L.C. (“NPM”) to manage existing and future operations at the historic Port of Basra in southern Iraq.

Hutchison Ports will assume oversight of day-to-day commercial and operational activities at NPM, operating under the name of Hutchison Ports Basra.

NPM is a containerized terminal operator at the Port of Basra located along the Shatt Al Arab waterway in Iraq.

The company services the shipping needs for a full spectrum of customers across Iraq – from large, multinational companies to local Iraqi merchants. NPM’s proximity to the city center and major oilfields, and its operations are viewed as key competitive advantages versus other ports in the region.

Andy Tsoi, Hutchison Ports’ Managing Director (Middle East and Africa), said:

We view NPM’s operations at the Port of Basra as an integral piece of our expanding Middle East strategy and are excited about the opportunities this partnership creates.

“We believe strongly in the growth story of Basra, Iraq, and the Middle East as a whole and are delighted to have the opportunity to participate in and support the growth of the business over the long term.

Eric Clark, CEO of NPM, said:

Hutchison Ports has an exceptional team and a proven track record of delivering value to its customers, employees and the regions in which it invests.

“We are delighted for the opportunity to partner with one of the leaders in the industry – a company which shares our vision of NPM as both a unique maritime asset in southern Iraq as well as strategic platform in the epicenter of one of the fastest growing regions in the world.

Eversheds LLP served as legal advisor to Hutchison Ports and Latham & Watkins LLP served as legal advisor to the PFBI during the deal process.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

(Source: Press Release)