Construction has started at Iran’s Marjan Petrochemical Complex at Assaluyeh, in the southwest of the country, the state-run Mehr news agency reports.

Sources close to the scheme say that the work is not part of the main engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) package for the planned 1.65 million tonne-a-year (t/y) methanol plant, which local firms estimate will cost between $300-400m, but is yet to be awarded.

“Starting construction refers to site preparation, rough grading, the installation of battery limit fences and so forth. The process plant and related infrastructure are still not finalised,” says one Tehran-based source.

Iran’s Marjan Petrochemical Company, which was privatised in 2007, plans to build one of two new methanol plants at the Pars Special Economic Zone in Assaluyeh on the Gulf coast. The company has yet to set to a firm deadline for engineering firms to submit commercial bids from the original 23 September date (MEED 1:10:10).

“Some €342m-worth ($468m) of capital in foreign currency, as well as some IR2.12 trillion ($212m) will be required for the project”, said Marjan’s managing director, Hassan Beigi, state-owned Shana news agency reports.

The unit is now expected to come on-stream by 2015, the end of Iran’s current five-year development plan, at the cost of almost $700m, according to Mehr. Tehran had previously planned to commission the plant in 2013.

Marjan signed a technology deal with Denmark’s Haldor Topsoe in June 2010 for the facility. Haldor Topsoe will supply technology licences, engineering design, catalysts and technical support services.

Marjan’s stakeholders are the state-owned Social Security Investment Organization of the Armed Forces (Sata), which owns 49 per cent, and the Petrochemical Industries Investment Company, which owns 17 per cent. Two private Iranian firms, Ghadir Investment Company and Modaber Investment Company, also hold 17 per cent each.