Work stops on Iran's long-planned refineries

Work stops on Iran's long-planned refineries

Azerbaijan, Baku, Oct. 7/ Trend M. Moezzi/

Iran's efforts to build six new refineries and produce and produce enough petrol to meet domestic demand have come to a halt.

Until now, building new oil and gas condensates refineries had been a major focus for Iran as it sought to produce its own supply of petroleum products and become a petrol and diesel exporter.

But seven years after the movement to build refineries was revived, not one new complex has begun operating.

At the start of Iran's Fourth Five Year Socio-economic Development Plan (2005-2010) the decision was made to build seven new oil and gas condensates refineries: Persian Gulf Star, Hormoz, Shiraz, Caspian, Anahita, Shahryar and Khuzestan. If finished, these refineries would add almost 1.1 million barrels of crude oil and 480,000 barrels of gas condensates to Iran's daily refining capacity. That would bring the country's total oil refining capability to 3.3 million barrels per day (bpd).

Building the complexes and brining them on stream requires $20 billion to $24 billion in funding. So far, however, about $1.5 billion has been finalized for the Persian Gulf Star refinery while the other six plants are at the basic design and initial planning stage without any concrete investors or financing methods. Only the Persian Gulf Star and Shiraz refineries have a timeline for when they will start operating.

The Persian Gulf Star refinery is about 50 percent finished but the site is half-closed. This summer, Alireza Zeyghami, the National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company's (NIORDC) managing director, said a lack of timely funding was the cause of delays at the Persian Gulf Star. But over the last two years Iran's Oil Ministry has given more financial support to the Persian Gulf Star than any other refinery. So far, the 360,000 bpd gas condensate plant has got $1.5 billion funds.

Iran's government plans to finish the Persian Gulf Star's first phase by late-summer of 2013. That seems unlikely given the project's pace.

Iran had also planned to build five refineries in Syria, Malaysia, Indonesia and Venezuela. Those projects have stopped at the economic studies and initial design phase.

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