Major businesses have lined up billions of dollars for investment in southern Iraq, where oil riches and long-term opportunities beckon, preparing to move in even as Britain prepares to pull its troops out.
Foreign investors have earmarked more than $9 billion for the oil-hub of Basra and the region around it in the next three years. Royal Dutch Shell has signed a multi-billion dollar natural gas deal with the Iraqi government, which will see it capture flared gas released from oil extraction.
"Iraq has the third largest proven oil reserve," said Michael Wareing, the co-chair of the Basra Development Commission (a British-Iraqi group), "really you almost can't afford not to be involved."
With the vast majority of Iraq's oil production, currently running at around 2.4 million barrels per day, being processed and exported via the south, Basra and the region around it have become business magnets.