BAGHDAD, (AP) – Camp Bucca, the sprawling former prison once run by the U.S. military in southern Iraq, will be turned into a commercial center with offices, warehouses, aviation and fuel services to support investors, an Iraqi official said Monday.
Basra Investment Commission leader Haider Ali Fadhil said the $245 million-deal with the Iraqi Kufan Group and U.S. Northern Gulf Partners marks a significant step toward rebuilding Iraq as it emerges from decades of war.
Fadhil said the new business complex will be ready in two years. The two companies will run it with a 40-year lease. Anwar al-Obaidi of the Kufan Group confirmed the deal.
The 40-acre Camp Bucca prison was built by U.S. forces on the Kuwaiti border in 2003. The largest such U.S. facility in Iraq, it housed tens of thousands of terror suspects and other detainees. It was dogged by accusations of abuse from detainees and human rights groups. It was emptied and closed in September 2009.
After decades of war and international sanctions, Iraq is seeking to rebuild its damaged and neglected infrastructure by awarding major deals to investors, mostly in the oil sector.
It has awarded 15 oil and gas deals since last year and set ambitious targets to boost output capacity to 12 million barrels daily by 2017 from the current about 2.4 daily million barrels.
Foreign companies have complained of the country’s poor infrastructure, corruption and bureaucracy.
The southern city of Basra, located just north of Camp Bucca, is expected to be Iraq’s busiest commercial hubs. Six of the oil and gas development deals that have been awarded to investors are in Basra province, which also is Iraq’s main port on the Persian Gulf.