* New refinery aims to fulfill domestic demand
* Etihad to import 1 mln tonnes of crude edible oils per year
* Refinery located in Babylon next to key sugar plant
By Maha El Dahan
ABU DHABI, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Iraq’s Etihad Food Industries Co. will start production at a new $100 million edible oils refinery by year end, a top company executive said, after its neighbouring sugar plant shifted much of the country’s imports to raw rather than white sugar.
The Babylon-based refinery neighbours Etihad’s sugar unit, which started in 2015 and ramped up production faster than expected, reducing the country’s dependence on white sugar imports from regional refiners.
“We began to build the infrastructure of the plant two months ago and we are expecting to start the production by end of 2016,” Haidar Alnoumany, commercial director of the company said in an email on Tuesday.
The edible oils plant will be able to process 3,000 tonnes a day with a refined oil storage capacity of 90,000 tonnes.
Etihad said it would need to import around 1 million tonnes of crude edible oils a year to fulfill refining demand.
Crude imports are set to start within 11 months.
“We will buy the crude (edible) oil from many origins like Argentina, Ukraine, Russia and USA,” Alnoumany said.
The refinery aims to cover the needs of Iraq’s trade ministry and the domestic private market.
“The plant will process four types of oils - corn oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, and palm oil,” he said.
Iraq’s trade ministry needs around 456,000 tonnes a year and a similar quantity is needed for the rest of the Iraqi market, according to Etihad. (Reporting by Maha El Dahan; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)