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EghtesadOnline: Export of petrochemicals increased 5% in the first ten months of this year (March 2019-Feb 2020) compared to the same period last year, a spokesman of the Iranian Oil, Gas and Petrochemical Products Exporters' Union said.

“The increase is largely due to the inauguration of new petrochemical units across the country,” Hamid Hosseini was quoted as saying by IRNA.

Export of non-oil products from the Customs Administration of Pars Special Economic Energy Zone has been increasing despite US restrictions and sanctions. Over $500 million worth of non-oil products were exported last November, up by 39% in volume and 5% growth in value compared to the same period the year before, according to Financial Tribune.

In addition, there were assorted restrictions on shipping and insurance of ships and oil tankers against Iran, but these measures did not prevent the growth of non-oil exports dominated by petrochemicals.

The exports included methanol, propane, butane, lightweight and heavy polyethylene, ammonia, sulfur and styrene among others.

China, the UAE, South Korea, India, Japan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Turkey, Iraq, Egypt and Kuwait were among the main export destinations.



Coronavirus Impact

Regarding the negative impact of the global coronavirus outbreak on the energy market, Hosseini said the spread of the virus has shut down some oil and petrochemical complexes in China and dampened prices of oil products because of falling demand.

The novel coronavirus, which was first reported in China in December, has caused an outbreak of respiratory illness (COVID-19) in Iran and 72 other countries so far.

Iran has confirmed 2,300 cases of infection with the new coronavirus, with 77 reported dead by Tuesday afternoon.

The total number of people worldwide who have tested positive for the virus has reportedly exceeded 90,000 with over 3,100 deaths.

Five of Iran’s seven neighbors including Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Armenia have closed their borders with Iran.

Other regional countries, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, UAE, Oman and Georgia have also imposed travel restrictions.

“If the shutting down of borders continues, it will leave a negative impact on our export market,” Hosseini concurred.



Indigenizing Catalysts

Nine petrochemical catalysts will be indigenized within two years, said the managing director of Petrochemical Research and Technology Company, a subsidiary of the National Petrochemical Company.

“The catalysts will be used in the production of PET, propylene and Polyethylene,” Ali Pajouhan said.

A catalyst is a substance that speeds up a chemical reaction but is not consumed by the reaction. Most solid catalysts are metals or oxides, sulfides, and halides of metallic elements and of semi-metallic elements such as boron, aluminum and silicon.

PRTC is striving to improve technical know-how of petrochemicals and is producing catalysts and key chemicals. Iran will have produced $215 million worth of catalysts by 2022.

Forty categories of catalysts worth about $260 million are annually used in the domestic petrochemical industry. Of all the 40 groups, 16 items worth $105 million per annum have been indigenized.

Iranian companies use at least 23,000 tons of catalysts a year. Private companies produce 20,000 ton covering most of the demand.

Catalyst consumption is rising and local companies are improving their R&D in the tight race to keep up with the times and not fall behind foreign competitors.


Iran exports petrochemicals Petrochemical Petrochemical Exports Rise