A technology licensing agreement with French company Air Liquide marks an important turn in Iran’s petrochemical sector after years of stalemate, the managing director of National Petrochemical Company said.

Marzieh Shahdaei added that the agreement went through after years of on-off negotiations with the French group.

Petrochemical Research and Technology Company, the research and development arm of NPC, signed a memorandum of understanding with Air Liquide Engineering and Construction Company last week on the transfer of state-of-the-art methanol to propylene technology, NIPNA reported.

The agreement is aimed at building an MTP unit in Iran with an annual production capacity of 500,000 tons under the license of Air Liquide.

According to Shahdaei, NPC opened talks on the transfer of MTP know-how in 2004 with Lurgi GmbH, a Frankfurt-based engineering firm that was acquired by Air Liquide in 2007. But negotiations fizzled amid flaring tensions between Iran and the West over the country’s nuclear program and restrictions that targeted trade and energy sectors.

“Air Liquide resumed talks on MTP licensing after the lifting of sanctions” in January 2016, she said. “The French company has successfully constructed MTP plants in two other countries with the same 500,000-ton capacity that is planned for Iran.”

Engineering works on building the MTP plant with Air Liquide’s assistance will begin after the process of technology transfer is completed within six months. Plans call for increasing the total production of propylene to 4 million tons per annum in 2021 and 8 million tons within the next decade.

According to Shahdaei, Iran developed its own MTP technology under international sanctions and launched a pilot plant in the southern city of Mahshahr, Khuzestan Province. The country hopes collaboration with Air Liquide will lead to a string of new petrochemical deals with international majors.

Officials say France’s Total and Royal Dutch Shell are in advanced stages of talks on constructing petrochemical plants in Iran. Total has reached a preliminary agreement to build three petrochemical plants, with a total capacity of 2.2 million tons in a deal that, if finalized, could see the French oil major investing up to $2 billion in Iran.

Shell also signed an agreement with NPC last year on expanding cooperation in the key petrochemical industry.

The Anglo-Dutch company has agreed to invest $350 million in a major petrochemical project in Hamedan Province, but analysts say its venture in Iran’s petrochemical sector could soar to as much as $6 billion. NPC has already concluded a preliminary agreement with Sojitz Corporation, a major Japanese industrial and engineering conglomerate, to establish a methanol-to-propylene plant in Iran.

The deals are part of Iran’s push to double its petrochemical production capacity in five years from around 60 million tons a year.

Source » presstv