Iran building largest condensates refinery
The world’s largest condensates refinery being built in Iran will become operational in the first half of the new Iranian year which begins on March 20, Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh says.
Zangeneh and other senior officials on Sunday toured the Persian Gulf Star refinery in Bandar Abbas and oversaw the debut lighting of its flare.
The 360,000-barrels-a-day refinery, being built with 3.5 billion euros ($4.7 billion) of investment, is set to turn Iran into a net gasoline exporter.
It will produce around 36 million liters a day of gasoline, with its first phase expected to come online within the next few months at a capacity to process 12 million liters which will make the country self-sufficient for supply of the fuel.
The remaining two phases are projected to start operation by the end of 2017.
The Persian Gulf Star refinery is the most important refining project in Iran, meant to process the condensate from South Pars in Asaluyeh. Condensate is a light form of crude oil produced in association with natural gas.
Despite being a major oil producer, Iran imports gasoline to fill the gap between domestic supply and consumption.
“With the commissioning of this refinery, 36 million liters a day of Euro-4 gasoline will be produced,” Zangeneh said.
“We are expecting the operation of the first phase of the refinery in the first half of the next (Iranian) year to yield 12 million liters of Euro-4 gasoline and get the country to do away with gasoline imports,” he added.
Several dates for the completion of the facility have been pushed back, including in 2014 when Iran was under the harshest US-led sanctions.
“Fortunately, the refinery has been able to reach an acceptable level of progress under the sanctions regime,” Zangeneh said.
With the lifting of the sanctions, foreign-made equipment needed in the facility “is on the way and will reach our hand soon,” he added.
Iran’s gasoline imports fell to almost zero in 2012 from more than 100,000 barrels a day before 2010 when sanctions hit.
There are no figures on current imports by the country which is gearing up for the new Persian year or Nowruz when road travel increases over two weeks from late March and demand for gasoline soars.
Iranians burn nearly 70 million liters of gasoline a day in more than 15 million vehicles, Zangeneh has said before.
Big traders are said to have resumed moving gasoline to Iran shortly after sanctions were removed, with Iran paying back in fuel oil instead of a cash settlement.
Iran is reportedly exchanging its fuel oil with gasoline through a rare barter arrangement with the likes of Swiss-based Vitol and Glencore and Russian companies.