Iran has set a deadline of 1 May for Oman Oil Company (OOC) to meet its obligations towards the Hormuz petrochemicals project, an estimated $800m joint venture fertiliser plant at Assaluyeh in southern Iran.

Tehran is ready to replace OOC’s fifty per cent stake if the company withdraws from the joint venture, says Ahmad Heidarnia, project manager at state-owned National Petrochemical Company, state-run Mehr news reports.

The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding in 2009 to establish a 1 million tonnes a year (t/y) ammonia and 650,000 t/y urea plant in Assaluyeh. This followed earlier agreements for four joint venture facilities, two in Oman and two in Iran.

These were to include a 1.65 million t/y methanol plant in Assaluyeh and  a 400,000 t/y polyvinyl chloride (PVC) complex in Oman’s Sohar Port Industrial Zone.

Iran’s oil and gas sector has also been impacted by the reluctance of foreign firms to invest in the country, a situation compounded by the latest round of UN sanctions. But the government has been seeking to implement a number of new petrochemical projects with foreign investments from Venezuela, Oman and Indonesia in the Pars Special Economic Energy Zone in Assaluyeh.

VenIran, the Iran-Venezuela joint venture aims to develop a methanol plant in each country, but has faced numerous delays. Bids for the $350-400m engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract were submitted in July 2010, but no award has been made (MEED 24:12:10).