Iraq has invited energy companies and investors to bid to build and finance the first phase of a pipeline that will eventually connect the southern city of Basra with Jordan’s Red Sea port of Aqaba, Reuters reported.

Iraqi State Company for Oil Projects (SCOP) said  the first phase includes the engineering, procurement, construction and financing of oil and gas pipelines linking the Basra fields to a connecting energy station near the city of Najaf. According to Jordanian Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, Ibrahim Saif, the phase is scheduled start in 2017, informed Anadolu Agency.

SCOP’s Manager, Nihad Moussa, said the closing date for bids is late December and a bidding round is expected to be held in the first quarter of 2017. He added that the planned 350km pipeline will have capacity to ship 2.25mb/d of oil and will have a parallel gas pipeline. This new pipeline project offers an alternative to the Kirkuk–Ceyhan pipeline. The plan is to export 1mb/d of Iraqi crude to Jordan, of which 150,000b/d will supply Jordan’s Zarqa refinery, with the remainder exported through the port of Aqaba.

In 2013 Iraq pre-qualified 12 companies and joint ventures to build an $18b export pipeline to Jordan, but the project was delayed by Islamic State’s takeover of territory in the west of the country where the pipeline woull be laid.