Local engineering and management firm, Namvaran has emerged as the frontrunner for the estimated $350-400m deal to build a new methanol plant at Assaluyeh on the south coast of Iran.

Iran’s methanol ambitions
Year 2009 2013
Million tonnes a year     6.05   12.30
e=Estimate; f=Forecast. Source: ICIS

VenIran Petrochemicals Company (VIPC) an Iran-Venezuela joint venture is expected award a contract by the end of September, sources close to the project tell MEED.

Two local consortiums were shortlisted for the deal in May, led by local firms Namvaran and Petrochemical Industries Design & Engineering Company (PIDEC). After delays of more than a month the companies submitted bids for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract on 23 July (MEED 22:7:10).

The joint venture aims to develop two major methanol plants in each of the investing countries. Iran plans to become the world’s biggest methanol exporter by 2013, producing 14.7 million t/y. Sources close to the project say the Venezuelan partner is reviewing its plans for a methanol plant in favour of building a gas sweetening and sulphur removal plant.

Despite being Iran’s closest political and investment partner in Latin America, Venezuela remains a marginal trade partner. Bilateral trade in 2008 was only $52m, reflecting the reality that both countries’ exports are dominated by crude oil, so they have relatively little to sell to each other.  

The two partners’ relationship has become increasingly close as Iran’s international isolation has grown. Iran signed more than 200 economic co-operation agreements during a visit by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez to Tehran in September last year.

The centrepiece will see Venezuela’s state energy company invest $760m in the development of phase 12 of Iran’s South Pars gas field, while Iran will match this for the development Dobokubi oilfield and Block 7 of the Ayacucho heavy oil field in Venezuela.

Follow-through on the announced joint initiatives is often disappointing. An Iranian-Venezuelan joint venture, Venirauto, for instance, began assembling the Centauro car – manufactured by Iran-Khodro Company (IKCO) – in 2006, but it is said to be well short of a target production of 26,000 units a year.