State-refiner, National Iranian Oil Production & Distribution Company (NIORDC) has been ordered to stop the purchase of foreign technology licences for the country’s domestic refineries.

Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi issued the order after unnamed foreign companies failed to meet their obligations on Iranian refining projects, according to the local Pana news agency.

According to the Industries and Mines Ministry, the NIOPDC is currently using domestic licences for nine oil refining projects. Iran produces 35 per cent of its petrochemicals using German licences. Another 18 per cent is produced under UK licences, followed by 12 per cent from France and 11 per cent from the Netherlands.

There are currently 10 projects in the design or engineering bid stage in Iran’s refining and petrochemicals sector, worth an estimated $16.7bn.

The planned grassroot Khuzestan Refinery in the southwest of the country, for example, is set for engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) bids in 2012. Basic engineering is under way by the local Energy Industries Engineering & Design (EIED).

Technology agreements have been signed with several firms, including Denmark’s Haldor Topsoe for gasoline desulphurisation units, the hydrocracker and hydrogen plant. France’s Technip also signed process deals for sulphur recovery and tail gas treatment units.