Iran Fire-Hit Petrochem Complex to Resume Operations Soon

Iran Fire-Hit Petrochem Complex to Resume Operations Soon
Iran Fire-Hit Petrochem Complex to Resume Operations Soon

Iran's Bouali Sina Petrochemical Complex will resume operations within three to four weeks after a massive blaze at the complex was contained early Saturday.

"Bouali Sina complex will return to normal in three weeks, but its paraxylene tower unit will need more time to restart," Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said shortly after the fire was fully contained at around 2:00 a.m. local time on Saturday, Mehr News Agency reported.

The fire at the petrochemical complex in the southern city of Bandar Mahshahr in Khuzestan Province broke out on Wednesday due to a technical problem that led to leakage of paraxylene, a highly flammable fuel.

"We had a stressful day [on Friday] and managed to preserve this national asset," Zanganeh said, referring to the petrochem complex that is one of the subsidiaries of Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company—the largest holding firm in Iran's stock market.

Zanganeh ruled out speculations that the fire was a result of sabotage or even part of a terrorist plot. "But reasons behind the fire will be investigated to address operational limits," he added. According to reports, the fire was initially contained on Thursday, but a second fire erupted at one of the complex's main storage units.

Loads of fuel from the storage unit were offloaded to subside the fire, as firefighters sprayed foam on the unit's surface to cool down the facility and prevent it from burning down or exploding.

Adel Salimnejad, chief executive of PGPIC, also speculated that all but the paraxylene unit of the complex will become operational within a month.

"The paraxylene unit of Bandar Imam Petrochemical Complex, which had stopped operations a few months ago due to excess output, will resume production to offset the outage," he said.

Bandar Imam complex has the capacity to produce 180,000 tons of petroleum byproducts per year and will temporarily replace Bouali Sina complex to supply the feedstock for Shahid Tondgooyan Petrochemical Complex in Bandar Mahshahr.

Early estimates place the total damage of the incident at $200-300 million, as the complex's largest processing unit and some of its naphtha storage units and pipelines burned.