Engineering on the Kharg cracker is almost complete and it is understood that little new engineering work is needed to transfer the plant to Assaluyeh. The 500,000-tonne-a-year (t/y) unit will now be built on the site originally proposed for the now-cancelled olefins 11 cracker (see above). An ethylene glycol plant planned for Kharg will also be moved to Assaluyeh.

However, the Kharg methanol project will remain without feedstock until the gas treatment plant comes on stream. The local Petrochemical Industries Design & Engineering Company (PIDEC) last June submitted a low bid of $315 million with technology from Switzerland’s Methanol Casale. The contract still has to come into effect. The 1.5 million-t/y plant will be owned by Kharg Petrochemical Company, a private firm set up with NPC’s co-operation to carry out the project.

A new engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) tender for the Kharg NGL plant was relaunched in April. However, the client, Iran Offshore Oil Company (IOOC), has demanded that contractors bring financing to the project, which is expected to delay implementation due to Iran’s increased political risk as a result of the ongoing crisis over its nuclear programme.

Past and present management teams of NPC have repeatedly requested that responsibility for the NGL plant be transferred from IOOC to the petrochemical company to accelerate work and to allow feedstock for downstream facilities to become available more quickly.