NIOC: Gas Flaring Not the Main Cause of Khuzestan Pollution

Studies reveal that respiratory problems in the province do not emanate from oil-related activities.Studies reveal that respiratory problems in the province do not emanate from oil-related activities.

A senior official at the National Iranian Oil Company has reacted to the Department of Environment's calls for suing the company for contributing to air pollution in the southern province of Khuzestan, maintaining that oil activities are not the main cause of the problem.

Speaking at the Conference on Challenges of Oil Activities in Khuzestan, Bijan Aalipour, director of the National Iranian South Oil Company (a subsidiary of NIOC),  said "putting all the blame on NIOC for the air pollution is nothing but a baseless allegation", ISNA reported.

Ahmadreza Lahijanzadeh, the director of the provincial DOE office, has recently restated that the Oil Ministry must be legally required to control gas flaring, as it is responsible for over 60% of air pollution in Khuzestan alongside dust particles.

Iran's production of 4 million barrels of oil per day results in the flaring of around 39 million cubic meters of gas across the country. As a result, air pollution of Ahvaz in Khuzestan Province is aggravated.

"Over 7.5 million cubic meters of sour gas burn in Khuzestan's oilfields daily," he had earlier said.

Lahijanzadeh stressed that gas flaring could worsen the conditions when added to the phenomenon of temperature inversion in the second half of the year.

Aalipour, however, dismissed the claims that gas flaring is the main cause of the problem.

"We do not deny that oilfield activities generate pollution, but it is not as serious as they say,” he added.

The official noted that studies conducted by the Ministry of Health reveal that respiratory problems in the province do not emanate from oil-related activities.

Nevertheless, he pointed to projects to end gas flares from the vicinity of Ahvaz.

"The reason our projects have not been conducted so far is that all the required equipment were foreign, but we ordered them as soon as the western-imposed sanctions were lifted [in January 2016]," he said, adding that two flares on Andimeshk and Mahshahr roads will be completely eliminated in six months.

Other projects have also been put out to tenders. At present, "two contracts have been signed with local companies, according to which, gas flares will be either transferred to National Iranian Gas Company or used to generate electricity."

Aalipour said complaints had earlier been filed and did not produce any result.

"Eventually, in case of legal action, we will go to the prison and rest for a while," he said confidently.


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