Uzbekistan Open to Invest in Iran's Petrochemical Sector

The Central Asian country is particularly interested in methanol-to-olefin projects.The Central Asian country is particularly interested in methanol-to-olefin projects.

Uzbekistan is willing to have a stake in Iran's petrochemical ventures around the Persian Gulf, the head of the National Petrochemical Company said on Wednesday.

"Uzbekistan is rich in natural gas resources, but the country is open to making investment [in petrochemical projects] where there is abundant gas supply and access to international waters," Seyyed Reza Norouz-Zadeh was quoted as saying by Shana on Wednesday.

Potential investment of Uzbekistan in Iran's petroleum industry came to the forefront last week in a meeting between Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, Iran's oil minister, and Alisher Sultanov, Uzbekistan's deputy prime minister.

"Representatives of NPC and the government of Uzbekistan are now set to assess petrochemical investment opportunities in Iran," Norouz-Zadeh said.

The Central Asian country is particularly interested in methanol-to-olefin projects. Olefin is the building block for wallpapers, carpeting, ropes and vehicle interiors.

Iran opened its energy market to foreign investment following the lifting of international sanctions in January 2016.

Data show the country exported close to 13 million tons of petrochemicals and polymers between March 21-Oct. 22, 14% higher compared with the same period of last year. The lion's share of petrochemical exports is bound for India, China and South Korea, and the country is gaining more ground in Africa and Europe.

The country hopes to raise $70 billion in finance to raise its petrochemical output capacity from 60 million tons a year to more than 120 million tons in five years, as part of a drive to extract more value from its massive oil and gas resources.

Tehran and Tashkent also discussed sending Iranian crude to Uzbekistan on Saturday. But talks are reportedly at an early stage.

Iran's crude output has almost climbed to the pre-sanctions level of around 4 million barrels per day and is slated to rise to 4.7 million bpd in four years. Under the sanctions, Iran lost more than one-third of its oil production capacity, as output declined to 2.5 million barrels a day.

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