Industry approves new oil nominee

18 November 2005
Local and international contractors based in Iran have expressed approval for the nomination as oil minister of Mohsen Tasalloti, now head of the Petrochemical Special Economic Zone at Bandar Imam. The nomination of an Oil Ministry official has been interpreted by analysts as a compromise position from President Ahmadinejad, and if confirmed by the Majlis (parliament) in late November will help ease growing discontent about the new administration (MEED 11:11:05).

Tasalloti was head of construction at National Petrochemical Company (NPC)for several years before becoming head of the Petrochemical Special Economic Zone at Bandar Imam. He is the first of the names suggested by Ahmadinejad with any experience of the hydrocarbons sector. Ali Saeedlou, who was rejected by the Majlis in August, was the president's deputy during his time as Tehran mayor, while Sadeq Mahsouli, who was rejected in early November, had been governor of Urumiyah and a deputy defence minister.

'Because he is head of Bandar Imam he is involved in this area of business and should understand the situation,' says an executive at a major local contractor. 'He should have a positive point of view towards ongoing and future projects.'

The new minister will need to act urgently on a number of major projects that need immediate attention. The Kharg Island natural gas liquids (NGL) plant is being retendered for front-end engineering and design (FEED), despite being already so late as to endanger the success of downstream facilities (see page 13). Bids on the South Pars phases 15-16 and 17-18 were opened a year ago, but work has not yet started. And the major petrochemical facilities at olefins 8 and 11 need ministerial approval to proceed. In addition, a huge condensates refinery awarded before the election is also expected to come under scrutiny.

'These need to be awarded as quickly as possible,' says the contractor. 'For companies like ours it is very important because everything has been stagnating for months and there is no new work coming out.'

The relationship between Tasalloti and NPC head Mohammed Reza Nematzadeh is likely to be closely examined, because the petrochemicals chief is the highest-ranked official the nominee will have regularly worked with. If confirmed in the post, he will also be working directly above Nematzadeh, who is believed to have been overlooked because of his strong relationship with foreign companies.

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