Iraq's Etihad sugar refinery, which came onstream in February 2015, said on Sunday it was looking to double its production capacity to export to Syria and Turkey. "With the planned expansion we can cover our increasing domestic demand and export to Syria and Turkey," Haidar Alnoumany, commercial director of Etihad Food Industries, told Reuters before the Kingsman Platts Sugar Conference in Dubai.
Alnoumany said the refinery had increased production to an average of 3,250 tonnes a day and was refining enough sugar to cover the needs of the Iraqi market.
The expansion work is set to start in 2017, he said.
Iraq consumes around 900,000 tonnes of white sugar a year while the refinery produced over a million tonnes since it started operations.
Dubai's Al Khaleej refinery had been a major supplier of white sugar to Iraq before Etihad Sugar started production.
Al Khaleej's head told Reuters in an interview on Saturday the refinery was operating at 70 percent of its capacity due to slow physical demand for white sugar.
Al Khaleej also said there was too much refining capacity in the region, with only around 60 percent being utilized but Alnoumany was confident there would be a market for Etihad's white sugar after expansion.
"The Syrian refineries are still not working because of the war, there was some talk of the Akhras refinery starting up again in the first quarter of 2016 but here we are in February and there is nothing yet," Alnoumany said.
The Middle East Sugar Refinery in Syria's Homs, owned by the Akhras family, has a capacity of 600,000 tonnes a year.