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EghtesadOnline: Iran is expected to sign deals with two Japanese companies to enhance oil refineries in Tehran and in the southern city of Bandar Abbas, Abbas Kazemi, the chief executive of National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company said.

The potential deals would expand Iran's cooperation with East Asian companies in the midstream refinery sector following a contract signed with South Korea's Daelim to improve and optimize Isfahan Oil Refinery, Mehr News Agency reported on Sunday.

"Renovating and cutting mazut supplies at refineries is a top priority," Kazemi said, referring to plans to curtail the share of mazut production in all domestic refineries by 10% by 2021, which marks the end of the sixth economic, social and cultural development plan.

Japanese engineering giant JGC Corporation is in advanced negotiations to upgrade the Tehran refinery, according to the NIORDC chief. JGC has also held talks to build a waste-to-energy plant, also known as waste incinerator, in the city of Amol in the northern Mazandaran Province, according to Financial Tribune.

"Following last year's lifting of international sanctions, foreign investors, particularly from Japan and South Korea, showed strong interest in upgrading Iran's aging refineries," the official said.

Iran has turned to foreign investment and technology in an effort to raise the production of higher-value petroleum products such as gasoline and cut back on mazut output, a highly polluting and low-value fuel.

To help curb air pollution, power plants and industries have been instructed by the government to use gas instead of mazut. In the US and western Europe, mazut is mostly blended or broken down, with the end product being diesel.

Kazemi said last year that the government of President Hassan Rouhani has allocated $14 billion to renovate refineries nationwide and improve the quality of oil byproducts.

NIORDC Iran oil Abbas Kazemi Iran refineries