Iraq has invited bidders to build a breakwater and a service pier for the $6bn Grand Faw Port in the southern province of Basra.

First phase construction involves a large development which will line the southern fringe of the Al Faw peninsula with over 10km of cargo docks.

General Company for Ports of Iraq spokesman Anmar al-Safi told Reuters that the closing date for the tender is July 15, and offers will be opened on July 16.

"Interested companies will be invited to attend a meeting on May 28 to discuss tender details," al-Safi said.

Construction of the breakwater is expected to cost about IQD400bn ($340m).

Al Faw Grand Port will comprise of a 7,000m (23,000ft) dock to receive container ships and a 3,500m dock for general cargo.

The port will be built to an Italian design, having a depth of 17m to allow the large vessels to dock.

Iraq is also planning to build a further 6km of new railway line, including a $3bn high-speed railway linking Baghdad to Basra.

The new port, which will be connected to Baghdad through a 2km railway network, will create a regional transport centre that will allow overland freight trains to pass directly from the Gulf to central Europe, rivalling shipping routes through the Suez Canal.

The 100-dock port is being constructed under the Iraqi government’s ‘dry canal’ project and after completion the port is expected to handle 99 million tonnes of cargo per year.