The expansion of the Neka-Tehran oil pipeline will more than double Iran`s crude `swaps` capacity with Caspian countries when it opens later this year, IRNA reported from London.
Iran is due to complete the expansion by the end of September that will allow for and extra 70,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Caspian and Russian crude to be supplied, according to Petroleum Argus, quoting a senior Iranian Oil Ministry official.
The 340 km pipeline links Caspian Sea to Iran`s 250,000 bpd Tehran refinery and the 100,000 bpd Tabriz refinery, but the existing capacity from the port of Neka is just 50,000 bpd. The expansion includes the construction of four new pumping stations, which are being tested before the work on the pipeline is declared completed.
Five international companies, Russia`s Lukoil, Dublin-based Dragon Oil, Kazakhstan`s Munai-Impex, BP-controlled Sidanco and European trader Vitol, are already involved in shipping crude to Neka. The oil delivered is exchanged for an equal amount of Iranian crude loaded for export at Iran`s Kharg Island terminal in the Persian Gulf.
Petroleum Argus also reported that work on expanding facilities at Neka port, which is capable of unloading crude from 5,000-tonne vessels simultaneously, is nearing completion.
According to Dragon Oil, the first company to enter a swap agreement with Iran three years ago, vessel traffic at the Iranian port has more than doubled over the past eight months.
The expansion of the pipeline is part of Iran`s aims to boost imports of crude from the Caspian states to as much as 500,000 bpd by the end of next year.
... Payvand News - 8/27/03 ... --