NPC’s decision to invite EPC proposals will for the first time permit international bidders to bid on large-scale petrochemical projects without the need to team up with a local contractor. Iran has in the past sought to secure workload for local contractors by requesting foreign firms bid in partnership with an Iranian company.

Industry sources are sceptical about the move. ‘Taking on construction in Iran means taking on a lot more additional risk,’ says a representative of one international company bidding for EP projects in Iran. ‘The move is partly motivated by NPC to speed up the construction work, where local contractors have often fallen behind schedule.’

NPC’s move will affect several projects already out to tender at Ilam and Kharg. Revised EPC bids are expected to be invited in April for the Ilam olefins project, covering an ethane cracker with capacity of at least 300,000 tonnes a year (t/y), a 300,000-t/y high-density polyethylene (HDPE) unit and a 80,000-t/y polypropylene (PP) unit.

Feedstock for Ilam is to be provided in the form of associated gas and propane plus (C3+) from the nearby Ilam gas plant, which processes products from onshore oil fields in western Iran, including the Naft Shahr field. The complex is due for completion in 2006.

Revised tender documents will also be released in April for the EPC contract to build an integrated ammonia/methanol complex located on Kharg island. The facility is set to have capacities of 2,000 tonnes a day (t/d) of methanol and 1,500 t/d of ammonia.

NPC is close to awarding the EP contract for another project located on Kharg island, a 500,000-t/y ethane cracker. The Hague office of the US’ ABB Lummus Global, Germany’s Lindeand Paris-based Technip-Coflexip have submitted final technical updates for the cracker, which was planned to have capacity of 300,000 t/y when bids were first submitted last March (MEED 3:5:02).

The Kharg facilities will receive feedstock from the island’s planned gas gathering network, which will have total capacity of about 600 million cubic feet a day (MEED 6:12:02).

Final bid evaluation is also ongoing at NPC for its planned 175,000-t/y polyvinyl chloride (PVC) facility in Bandar Imam. Three bidders submitted revised bids in February, after an emulsion polyvinyl chloride (E-PVC) plant of 40,000 t/y was added to the scope of the project.

It is understood that NPC is also drawing up plans to establish a new olefins complex in the Bandar Assluyeh area.