Iran's Oilmen Headed for South Africa

Iran's Oilmen Headed for South AfricaIran's Oilmen Headed for South Africa

The Oil Ministry intends to send a delegation to South Africa in October to explore grounds for cooperation.

According to the head of National Petrochemical Company, Abbas Sheri-Moqaddam, selling hydrocarbon products and making joint ventures will be on the delegation's agenda, ISNA reported.

"South Africa has constantly expressed its need of hydrocarbons and petrochemicals such as liquefied natural gas, naphtha and crude oil," Sheri-Moqaddam said on Saturday.

One of the areas high on the delegation's agenda will be attracting South African investments and technology.

  In Need of Money and Tech

"New investments will breathe life into the petrochemical industry," the official noted.

Iran's oil and gas industry is lacking advanced technology and funds as it was cut off by sanctions imposed over Tehran's nuclear activities.

Petrochemical producers have been the hardest hit in the past few years, with their shares losing value day by day. Furthermore, to cover gasoline shortages, they were asked by the government to suspend usual activities and produce automotive fuels, damaging some of their machinery in the process.

The Oil Ministry's analysis shows that the petrochemical industry yields a 20% return on investment.

"Foreign investors prefer upstream investments, exploration and production sectors, as with the improvement of economic conditions Iranian investors may rival them in downstream operations," he said.

Investment in the oil and gas industry yields good returns.

  Visiting Old Friends

One of the places the Iranian delegation is very likely to drop by is Sasol Limited's headquarters in Johannesburg.

Sasol develops and commercializes technologies, including synthetic fuels technologies and produces different liquid fuels, chemicals and electricity.

It already has a $900-million polymer joint venture with NPC, called Aryasasol Polymer Company.

Aryasasol was expected to create 1 million tons of ethylene, 600,000 tons of light and medium grade polyethylene in the Pars Special Economic Energy Zone—established to attract investment to South Pars Gas Field that holds roughly 17% of the world's recoverable gas reserves.

Iran and South Africa have equally invested €1.35 billion in the project. Aryasasol Petrochemical Complex is among the world’s biggest polymer projects.

"South Africa has technical knowledge of gas to liquids refinery process which Iran requires," due to having large natural gas reserves, Sheri-Moqaddam said.

Gaining GTL technology could help Iran manage its domestic fuel needs and add value to Iran's oil and gas exports.

Sasol, listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange, employs 32,400 people worldwide and has operations in 37 countries. It is the largest corporate taxpayer in South Africa.