EghtesadOnline: Iran’s 55 petrochemical companies produced 35 million tons of products between March 22 and Sept. 22.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic and US sanctions the figure reveals 8% growth in the volume compared to the same period last fiscal. Petrochemical plants manufacture 333 different grades of polymers plus 40 types of chemicals, IRNA reported.
The news agency quoted Behzad Mohammadi, managing director of National Petrochemical Company, as saying that of the total output close to 25 million tons were exported.
Global petrochemical prices have tumbled (by 30% on average) over the 6-month period not only due to historic low crude prices but also due to the economic devastation unleashed by the Covid-19 plague.
Regarding expansion of the petrochemical sector, Mohammadi said at least four development plans, namely Bidboland Persian Gulf Gas Refinery in Behbahan County, Khuzestan Province, Masjed Soleyman Petrochemical Company's ammonium and urea units in the same province, Hegmataneh Petrochemical Plant in Hamedan and Kangan Petro Refining Complex -- a major petrochemical and refinery project in Bushehr Province -- are slated to come online before January.
“Upon completion, NPC’s annual output from the present 55 million tons will increase by 30%.”
Most petrochemical plants are in Mahshahr in southwestern Khuzestan Province and Asalouyeh in the Persian Gulf, where water supply is not a major concern and proximity to international sea lanes makes transport and shipment cost effective.
The official said plants in their entirety buy 25.3 million tons of feedstock from oil and gas refineries per annum.
Mohammadi said petrochemical companies are doing relatively well as production has been of the ascending order in the past six years.
"Production has increased by 5.8 million tons a year since 2013."
Close to $5.4 billion was invested in the sector in the past six years. Giving a breakdown, he said six years ago NPC’s annual output was 23 million tons and has now reached 55 million tons -- up 145%.
Of the total annual output, 35% or 20 million tons is bought by local companies and converted into value-added products. The balance is exported.
Regarding exports, he said NPC generated $12 billion in 2013. Revenue grew 40% in the next six years to $17 billion a year. The rising trend created one million jobs, especially in the southern regions where most petrochemical plants are located.
Petrochemical industries have played a key role in the economic growth as it creates value-added and reduces “the sale of crude oil and gas on which the economy has long depended.”
NPC’s production in 1997 was six million tons worth $500 million.
“So long as petrochemical plants have access to stable supplies of feedstock (natural gas and condensates), nothing can mar the growth,” he said, adding that expansion of the South Pars Gas Field off the Persian Gulf has helped the sector expand.
With abundant hydrocarbon resources and private investments, Iran is striving to maintain its global status in the key sector and broaden its scope despite the unilateral US sanctions.