EghtesadOnline: Rehabilitating dilapidated refineries, completing the Persian Gulf Star Refinery and Siraf Refineries Complex and commercializing gas stations top the National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company's priorities.
Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh made the statement during a ceremony held to introduce the new managing director for NIORDC, Alireza Sadeqabadi, in Tehran on Monday, Shana reported. Attaching great importance to refinery reconditioning ventures, Zanganeh said, "Improving some of the major refining facilities in Tehran, Tabriz and Bandar Abbas, including cutting back their mazut and sulfur production, is high on the agenda."
According to the official, talks are underway with multinationals, namely Italy's Tecnimont, China's Sinopec, Japan's Marubeni, JGC Corporation, JX Nippon Oil & Energy and South Korea's Daelim, to fund the ventures.
Reportedly, state-owned NIORDC, one of the largest subsidiaries of the Oil Ministry that oversees downstream development projects and operations, signed a $20 million memorandum of understanding with the South Korean company last year on conducting feasibility studies on Tabriz Refinery’s development, Financial Tribune reported.
Zanganeh noted that privatization of gas stations can help NIORDC to gradually scale down its operational role and instead shift to supervisory position in the distribution of gasoline and other fuel products.
A shortage of gas stations in Iran, particularly in the big cities, creates long queues of cars every day. According to reports, there is one gas station for every 7,500 people in the UK and one for every 2,600 people in the US. But according to NIORDC's data, there is one gas station for 22,000 people in Iran.
The development of PGSR's phases two and three in the southern province of Hormozgan will pave the way for NIORDC to balance the domestic gasoline market supply and demand, Sadeqabadi, the newly elected NIORDC chief said.
"Financing the project in the near future is an urgent priority, as it can help the firm provide metropolises with the much-need fuel more conveniently," he said.
Asked about the company's environmentally-friendly initiatives, he noted that plans call for boosting Euro-4 gasoline distribution in metropolitan cities.
"Nonetheless, improving the quality of gasoline is not the ultimate solution to address the menace of air pollution in mega cities," he said, noting that a big part of the problem is rooted in combustion-engine automobiles that need to be tackled by automakers. Underscoring the significance of attracting funds to complete development plans, he said the refining industry is in dire need of financial resources with low interest rates and long-term payback periods, which can be provided by foreign financiers.
Stressing that state-sponsored firms should not compete with the private sector, Sadeqabadi said, "The government should play a much minor role in refining industry so that private sector enterprises can thrive."
On the critical issue of enhancing the quality of mazut to meet international standards and for its sale in foreign markets, he noted that NIORDC is making concerted efforts to use short-term solutions like mixing gas condensates with mazut instead of relying on traditional residual catalytic cracking methods, which is normally applied for refining heavy hydrocarbons into lighter fuel products.