Royal Dutch Shell has entered into an agreement with Iraq to build a petrochemical plant for $11 billion. As officially stated by Industry Minister Nasser Al-Esawi, the plant is to be located in Basra, the southern oil hub of Iraq.

The Minister who held a press conference said the “Nibras Complex”, set to be operational in about five years, will be the biggest petrochemical producer in the Middle East.

“The deal is huge and the plant should be operational in five years,” oil ministry spokesman Assem Jihad told AFP

The project, which still has to be formally agreed, is the most important petrochemical foreign investment in the Middle East and the biggest Iraqi venture across the board.

A Shell spokesman told Reuters Iraq’s cabinet had authorized the project on Jan 13.

“Shell has been working with the Iraqi ministries of industry and minerals and jointly with the ministries of oil and transport to setup a joint investment model for a world-scale petrochemical cracker and derivative complex in the south of Iraq,” he said.

Shell is one of the key oil companies operating southern Iraq. The company operates the Majnoon oilfield and leads the Basra Gas Company joint venture. It signed a MOU with the ministry for the Nibras project in 2012.