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Home | News |9th IPF: Iran Aims to Become the Leading Mideast Petrochemicals Player
9th IPF: Iran Aims to Become the Leading Mideast Petrochemicals Player
Updated: 2011-05-24 00:00 Source: share:

Iran aims to become the leading player in petrochemicals in the Mideast by 2025, said Abdolhossein Bayat, Iran's deputy minister of petroleum and president of National Petrochemical Co. (NPC; Tehran) in his opening address to the 9th International Petrochemical Forum (IPF), currently taking place in Tehran and attended by more than 1,000 delegates. The country had capacity for 51 million m.t./year of petrochemical products in the Iranian fiscal year ended March 20, 2011. Iran's petrochemical exports, valued at $11.5 billion, reached 18 million m.t. Domestic sales were 13 million m.t., Bayat says.

The country is gearing up to add more value to its huge oil and gas reserves--at 33 trillion cu meters, it has the second largest gas reserves behind Russia--and is currently working on a string of new investment projects, inlcuding the 15th, 16th and 17th olefins complexes and several methanol and ammonia and urea projects. The country's 5th five year plan, which runs through 2015, will require an investment of $49 billion and double petrochemical capacity to 100 million m.t./year. This includes 30 new plants with capacity for 37 million m.t./year. Bayat said that five more special economic zones will be created, adding to the Pars Special Economic Zone in Assaluyeh and the Mahshahr Petrochemical Special Economic Zone at Bandar Imam. The new zones will be at Chahbahar, on the border with Pakistan; Qeshm Island, near Bandar Abbas; Kish Island; and Lavan, both on the Persian Gulf in the south of Iran, and North Pars, north of Assaluyeh.  Chemical parks, which will house processing industries are also being planned.

Iran, which has hitherto relied mainly on ethane crackers, is now contemplating integrating its refineries with petrochemicals production. That would add petrochemical fractions, such as propylene, which have not been available in the country on a large scale. In the meantime, Iran is planning to build several polypropylene plants using propane from propane dehydrogenation units, methanol-to-propylene technology, and refinery propylene by the end of the current five year plan. 

Separately, NPC, which has been undergoing a program of privatization, has already transferred a significant number of companies to the private sector. The remaining 15 companies, still owned by NPC will be transferred to Persian Gulf Petrochemical Co., a holding company,  Bayat said. NPC will in the future act as a policy maker as well as a co-ordinating and overseeing body. Among the complexes completed last year was the Morvarid petrochemical complex at Assaluyeh, dubbed the 5th Olefins complex, with capacity for 544,000 m.t./year of ethylene, the 6th ammonia and urea complex at the Pardid petrochemical complex, designed to produce 600,000 m.t./year of ammonia and more than 1 million m.t./year of urea, the 300,000 m.t./year low-density polyethylene plant at the Amir Kabir complex and a pilot methanol-to-propylene plant.

The price of gas in Iran is currently about IR 700/cu meter, which is nearly three times more expensive than in Saudi Arabia, where supplies to the petrochemical sector have declined in recent years. Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, chairman and managing director of private sector NEBCO (Tehran) said that only 6%-7% of the available natural gas is currently allocated to the petrochemical sector. This should go up to 25%, he said. The new special economic zones will help develop the up and midstream industries. Iran's share in the global petrochemical industry is also expected to rise. In 2009 Iran accounted for just 2.4% of the global petrochemical output. This should triple and reach 7%-8% in the future, Nematzadeh said.

Meanwhile several new olefins projects with downstream plants are being planned, inlcuding some which have already been approved by the government. They include the 14th Olefins complex, which will be built at Firouzabad and produce 1 million m.t./year of ethylene, using ethane feedstock, and the 15th Olefins complex, planned at Genaveh. It will be deisnged for 500,000 m.t./year of ethylene and is due onstream during the current five year plan. The 17th Olefins complex, meanwhile, which is yet to receive approval, will be built at Dehloran-Ilam provincde by Dehloran Petrochemical Co. It will be a mixed feed cracker and produce 607,000 m.t./year of ethylene. Completion is expected in 2015. The 16th Olefins and methanol complex is already being implemented by Bushehr Petrochemical Co. as part of phase two of the Pars Special Economic and Energy Zone At Assaluyeh. Completion of the plants with capacity for 1 million m.t./year of ethylene and 1.65 million m.t./year of methanol, is due in 2014. The previously announced 12th Olefins complex, which was put on the back burner, is being studied under a new configuration. 


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