Call for Foreign Economic Opening to Achieve Petrochem Targets

New petrochemical ventures require over $70 billion in investments.New petrochemical ventures require over $70 billion in investments.

Opening economic gateways to foreign investment is the only way to achieve Iran's ambitious goals in the petrochemical industry, former director of state-owned National Petrochemical Company said.

“In the upstream and downstream sectors, we need huge investments that cannot be provided by domestic financial resources, including from the National Development Fund of Iran,” Abbas Sheri-Moqadam was also quoted as saying by ILNA on Sunday.

He added that the only solution to develop the petrochemical industry is by attracting foreign investment.

Tehran says its new petrochemical ventures require over $70 billion in investments. Sheri-Moqadam, who was succeeded in February last year by Marzieh Shahdaei, his deputy for development plans, said the state-owned petrochemical entity has made efforts to employ cutting-edge technology in domestic petrochemical ventures, but a lack of advanced foreign know-how has deterred development.

He stressed that Tehran's recent gas deal with the French oil and gas giant Total on developing South Pars Gas Field’s Phase 11 has encouraged other foreign majors to enter the lucrative industry.

"Following the removal of international sanctions against Iran in January 2016, many foreign firms visited the country and expressed willingness to invest in the petrochemical industry, but internal discords have also stymied new investments,” he said.  

Sheri-Moqadam also espoused the idea of cutting deals with US-based companies.

"They can contribute to the development of the petrochemical industry," he said without elaboration. American companies are prohibited from doing business with Iranian firms due to the Washington's so-called primary sanctions that prohibit trade with Tehran.

“While depositing money in the developed countries’ banks is not profitable at all, foreign companies can receive as much as 15% return on investment if they enter Iran’s petrochemical industry,” he said.

Sheri-Moqadam noted that undermining economic and trade ties with the outside world will force Iran to take resort to middlemen who made huge windfalls when Tehran endured financial sanctions over its nuclear dispute.

Oil- and gas-rich Iran produced 50.61 million tons of petrochemicals in the fiscal 2016-17 that ended in March, of which 20.3 million tons, worth $9.5 billion, were exported, government data show.

The completion of new petrochemical ventures is forecast to raise nominal production capacity to 72 million tons a year by March, the end of the current fiscal year.


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