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EghtesadOnline: The National Petrochemical Company and its subsidiaries invested $30 million in programs to help protect the environment in 2020, the health, safety and environment (HSE) director said.

“Reducing industrial pollution, wastewater management, conservation and promotion of green space, preserving marine species, planting trees and developing renewable energy were among the projects undertaken by 14 firms mainly in Bushehr Province,” Davoud Emadi was quoted as saying by the Oil Ministry news service.

One major joint initiative by Maroun, Jam, Nouri, Pars and Kavian companies (in Asalouyeh) was preventing the release of an estimated 10,000 tons of greenhouse gases into the environment, Emadi said. 

“Maroun, Razi and Shiraz petrochemical plants were awarded the Carbon Management Certificate by the United Nations Environment Program,” he said without providing details.

Other petrochemical companies, namely in Tabriz in East Azarbaijan Province, Ilam in Ilam Province and Lorestan Petrochem in Lorestan Province have put an end to gas flaring and associated petroleum gas is put to productive use.

APG is natural gas found with deposits of petroleum. It is often released as waste and burnt off as flare gas. Flaring is an important safety measure in oil and gas production sites, as it prevents industrial plant equipment from over-pressure and explosion. Burning high levels of APG is a major source of pollution as it releases methane, ethane and propane into the atmosphere.

Iran’s petrochemical companies were ordered in 2014 to uphold stringent environment protection measures or face consequences.


Heavy Polluters

“Of the 56 petrochemical firms in 2014, 32 were heavy polluters. However, the number of companies not upholding environmental protocols decreased to 15 in 2020."

As part of the campaign to safeguard the environment and curb air pollution, petrochemical plants and refining industries are gradually being equipped with modern online pollution control systems.

Unlike traditional lab systems that compel technicians to be physically present in the factory, online data systems enable  monitoring centers to measure and analyze the level of noxious waste, such as nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon dioxide and sulfur at any moment and from long distances.

The government is considering incentives to further encourage petrochemical producers to implement environment-friendly policies -- a long shot but worth trying. 

One measure is that companies cutting carbon footprint would be exempt from pollution tax levied by the Department of Environment.

According to an amendment to the 2008 Tax Law, all petrochemical and refining companies are carbon emitters and must pay 1% sales tax.

The primary objective of imposing carbon tax is to reduce harmful CO2 levels that have a dangerous impact on human health and the environment.

Moreover, in helping preserve marine ecology, a large number of coral reefs near the coast of the Persian Gulf have been carried to safer ecosystems farther up the coast with the help of Zagros, Mobin, Arya Sasol, Kangan and Nouri firms.

According to the official, the coral reefs (natural breakwaters preventing soil erosion and strong water waves in coastal areas) are unaffected by petrochemical activities in Bushehr.


Wastewater Use

Given the parlous condition of water resources, NPC said it has launched programs to use petrochemical wastewater, Emadi said.

“Preserving the environment is a priority NPC and although increasing production is equally important, saving water is high on the agenda.”

To curb water consumption and move toward a greener industry, some companies namely Shahid Tondgouyan Petrochemical Company in Mahshahr City, Khuzestan Province, have started projects to recycle water from cooling towers.

“With completion of the project, about 350 cubic meters of water per hour will be recycled.” 

Cooling towers use evaporative cooling, a process in which water reduces the temperature of another object, evaporating as a result. The water used in the process cycles back through the system for reuse.

Five petrochemical companies, namely Fajr, Maroun, Razi, Arvand and Ilam, have adopted zero liquid discharge (ZLD) recycling systems that has significantly reduced water use from the depleting ground resources.

"The ZLD system (a process to achieve maximum water recovery from a wastewater source that would otherwise be disposed) will eliminate the return of wastewater from the manufacturing sector into the river and prevent deterioration of natural resources," he said.


environment HSE Programs