Western Firms Pursue Iran Petrochem Projects

UOP Limited is ready to collaborate on licensing two major petrochemical processes: methanol-to-olefins and propane dehydrogenation
Iran produced just over 50 million tons of petrochemicals and polymers in the fiscal 2016-17.Iran produced just over 50 million tons of petrochemicals and polymers in the fiscal 2016-17.

Some of the biggest western energy companies laid out their vision for Iran's downstream petroleum sector this week, proposing plans to license and finance the country's petrochemical ventures.

In a meeting with Marzieh Shahdaei, the head of the National Petrochemical Company, on the sidelines of an energy conference in Tehran, Reinhart Vogel, the head of Linde Engineering's operations in India, said the German firm can help Iran upgrade its olefin production units, Shana reported.

"Financing, raising funds, supplying feedstock and manufacturing equipment are among Linde's main operations," the official said.

"Iran has made significant inroads in petrochemical industry and its unfinished ventures should be completed as quickly as possible."

Linde opened talks with Tehran after the lifting of international sanctions in early 2016 and signed its first contract, worth $40 million, in August last year with a domestic company on providing licenses to manufacture a range of petrochemicals with higher value added.

It is the world's largest industrial gas company by market share and revenue. The group has over 600 affiliated companies in more than 100 countries, with customers in the industrial, retail, trade, science, research and public sectors.

"Having spent $288 million on 296 new patents filed in 2016, France's Air Liquide is keen to use its know-how to boost the efficiency of Iranian petrochemical units," Thomas Wurzel, the company's director for E&C, Downstream and Petrochemical, said.

"Renovation is an imperative and constant element," Wurzel said as he elaborated on Air Liquide's plans to license technologies to methanol into petrochemicals that generate higher profit.

"Methanol is an important link in the petrochemical value chain … It can be used as an intermediate or final product," he noted, pointing to the beginning of a "new chapter" in Air Liquide's relations with Iran.

Air Liquide Engineering signed a memorandum of understanding with the Petrochemical Research and Technology Company of Iran in August on transferring state-of-the-art technology to convert methanol to propylene.

The Paris-based company is an engineering, construction and chemical process licensing company. Since 2007, it has been part of Air Liquide S. A., a multinational company that supplies industrial gases and services to industries.

--- Methanol, Propylene Talks

Jose Miramontes, sales director at UOP Limited, also saw a unique window of opportunity in Iran for converting methanol into other petrochemicals.

"We are ready to collaborate on licensing two major petrochemical processes; methanol-to-olefins and propane dehydrogenation," Miramontes said.

He forecast that global demand for propane, which is also known as propylene, will rise by 36% by 2025, indicating that it would be a smart move to invest in advanced propylene production technologies.

Propane dehydrogenation is a step in the production of propylene from propane. Propylene is the second most important starting product in the petrochemical industry after ethylene. It is the raw material for plastic polypropylene, a component that is mainly used in the automotive, textile and packaging industries.

UOP is a multinational supplier of technology to refining, gas processing, petrochemical and manufacturing industries.

Negotiations with the world's leading petrochemical companies are in line with efforts to raise petrochemical output capacity to more than 120 million tons annually in five years.

Iran produced just over 50 million tons of petrochemicals and polymers in the fiscal 2016-17.

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