Iran National Petrochemical Co. definitely is interested in supplying the Asian plastics market. And it sounds like it might want to do so all by itself.
Plans are in place for state-owned Iran NPC to add 7.5 billion pounds of polyethylene capacity, 2 billion pounds of polypropylene capacity and 2.2 billion pounds of combined PVC, polystyrene and PET bottle-resin capacity by the end of 2008. Capacity will be installed at eight olefin crackers that also will produce massive amounts of ethylene and related chemical feedstocks. Four of the crackers will be built in the next five years.
``Our country is rich in gas,'' Mohammed Nematzedeh, deputy petroleum minister, said at an Oct. 22 news conference at K 2004 in Dusseldorf. ``We're working to convert gas into more precious products.''
Iran's large supplies of natural gas give the country a major feedstock advantage. Its natural gas prices run less than $1 per million Btu, compared with recent U.S. prices of almost $6.50. That easy access to a key raw material causes some numbers cited by Nematzedeh to appear almost cartoonish.
By 2015, he said, Iran NPC plans to add 22 billion pounds of polymer capacity and 26 billion pounds of ethylene capacity. Through 2010, the country's petrochemical spending will be $15 billion. Of that amount, 65 percent will come from Iran NPC, with the rest coming from its various joint venture partners.
Saudi Basic Industries Corp. of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, has partnered with Iran NPC and Iranian investment firm Pooshineh Batt on a low density PE plant set to open in 2005. South African plastics maker Sasol Polymers also is a partner in an ethylene cracker set to open next year. That project will include HDPE and LDPE production.
Chematur of Sweden and Hansa Chimie of Germany are working with Iran NPC on a plant that would supply polyurethane feedstocks methylene diphenyl diisocyanate and toluene diisocyanate. That plant is set to open in two stages, in 2005 and 2007. Other Iran NPC partners include several private investment firms and government agencies.
Currently, Iran NPC exports 50-55 percent of its petrochemical output, but Nematzedeh added that Iran is on track to increase its per capita polymer consumption rate to 46 pounds in 2004. The world average for 2004 is expected to be 59 pounds.
Between March and September, Iran NPC's output was up 9 percent vs. the same period in 2003. For the year, its petrochemical production is expected to total almost 42 billion pounds.