Iraq's oil ministry has inked a preliminary pact with an Italian group for a refinery to produce 200,000 barrels per day of gasoline and diesel fuel for the domestic market, an official said. "This is a six-month contract with the Karbala Refinery Corporation (KRC) during which the consortium must complete procedures ahead of starting the project," Ahmed Shamaa, Deputy Oil Minister in charge of refineries, said in a statement late Tuesday. The refinery, the first to be built since the late 1980s, is expected to cost $6.5 billion and the Italian company Saipem will provide the technical support. The KRC is committed to begin production 48 months after signing the final contract. Iraq intends to build four refineries to achieve self-sufficiency. It currently imports from 5,000-7,000 tons per day of gasoline and diesel.