Zanganeh Reiterates Support for Private Enterprise

Zanganeh Reiterates Support for Private Enterprise
Zanganeh Reiterates Support for Private Enterprise

Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh on Monday voiced renewed support for the private sector and the petrochemical industry, ISNA reported.

"I believe in strong participation with the private sector. To this end, I decided to break down a huge refinery project into 8 smaller contracts with a production capacity of 60,000 barrels each and allocate them to the private sector," he said, asserting that the government has the ability to build a refinery with 480,000 barrels of gas condensate.

Private sector investors will, for the first time, compete to win tenders to build refineries, with 33 investment groups comprising more than 50 subsidiaries willing to undertake the construction of the 8 refineries.

In a meeting with representatives from the private sector, the minister said several projects in the downstream sector will be allocated to the private sector, but insisted that the upstream sector "had better remain entirely in the hands of the government."

He stressed that the oil ministry and not the ministry of welfare should be in charge of refineries and petrochemicals.

He also criticized the approach towards privatization and said, "Unfortunately, several privatized units are still being assigned to the government."

CNG Problems

The minister insisted that the problems of CNG stations should be addressed, adding that in some cities only one-third of the stations are operational while there is a shortage of stations in several places due to inappropriate pricing.

"The CNG industry needs time to improve," he said, adding that he would have established 3-4 different types of fuel stations if he was able to.

Zanganeh said that the government has reached an agreement with the Tehran Municipality to establish 200 single-pump stations in the capital.

Plans are underway to optimize energy consumption in different areas, including vehicles (taxis and trucks) and water wells and promote electric motorcycles and expand public transport facilities, such as railroads and metro systems.

"The total price difference between oil and gas condensate supplied inside the country and global markets is approximately $80 billion; an alarming figure indeed, but the difference will be compensated with money saved from projects designed to lower energy consumption.

Zanganeh refused to reveal figures on oil revenues. "Oil revenues and profits have exceeded our initial projections in the budget," he said without elaboration.

Iran's new oil export destinations and the amount of exports cannot be disclosed due to the sanctions, but "all in all, oil exports are on the rise."

Zanjani Reimbursement

On seizing the assets and properties of the scandalous Iranian billionaire, Babak Zanjani, and reimbursing the government, he said, "The oil ministry is working closely with the judiciary to cash in on Zanjani's assets, but the value of his properties are insignificant compared to his debt to the government.

Zanjani was arrested in September 2013 after he was accused of withholding $1.9 billion of oil revenues meant to be channeled through his companies. The tycoon is said to be worth $13.5 billion.

Feedstock Prices

The minister and petrochemical industry leaders will meet in the near future to set the price of feedstock for petrochemicals for the next 10 years.

The government is ready to agree on a price for feedstock before November if representatives from the petrochemical industry express readiness, the minister said.

On Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline (also known as the Peace pipeline) he said, due to the inactivity of Pakistanis, the project's progress is slow.

According to Iran's commitment, two gas projects with a capacity of 100 million barrels will be complete by the end of the year (March 2015). The ministry will make sure the country will not face gas shortages over the next year.

Zanganeh said $3 billion worth of kerosene and diesel fuel is consumed in the country's small towns and villages annually. Piped gas distribution to all villages will cost close to $4 billion, he concluded.