The Iraqi ambassador to Cairo Habib Mohamed Hady Al-Sadr said that the Iraqi Oil Marketing Company (SOMO) has signed a contract for oil exports with the Egyptian government, El Ahram informed.

Al Sadr added that SOMO forwarded the contract to the  Egyptian Petroleum Ministry and Mineral Resources for final approval. The first batch of oil, estimated at 1mb, will be exported to Egypt by the end of March 2018.

Meanwhile, Egypt, Iraq and Jordan are preparing for a major strategic joint energy project, he added. The three countries will extend oil and natural gas pipelines from Basra oil fields through Aqaba port in Jordan to Egypt, Egypt Independent stated.

Cairo’s search for additional crude comes after Saudi Arabia‘s state oil firm, Aramco, halted shipments of oil products to Egypt last year. The $23b Saudi aid deal had included 700,000t of refined oil products per month for five years. Aramco has not explicitly announced the reasons behind oil shipments cuts.