Assalouyeh, Nov 20, IRNA -- Iran brought on line a new phase of a colossal gas project, implemented on this tiny port on the Persian Gulf, with President Mohammad Khatami hailing it a 'great honor' for the nation.
Phase 1 of the South Pars, a 1.181-billion-dollar scheme to build a gas refining plant, was carried out by local entity Petropars, to deliver 25 million cubic meters of natural gas daily as well as 40,000 barrels of gas condensates on top of 200 tons of sulfur.
The plant is hoped to earn Iran one billion dollars per year.
"Inauguration of Phase 1 of the South Pars is a great honor in the country's economic and industrial arena, but the bigger honor is that its construction work was carried out by Iranian engineers, designers and managers," Khatami said, while unveiling the project.
"Execution of Phase 1 by Iranian contractors and technicians marks a new chapter in the Islamic country's industrial and economic growth, who created a glorious epic for the first time," he added.
Described as one of Iran's largest energy projects implemented by local contractors, Phase 1 is where the country has put its capability in executing large-scale energy schemes into serious test.
Officials, however, had to put back the plant's operation date, initially set for more than a year ago.
The South Pars gas field, which is set to increase Iran's gas exports, straddles the border between Qatari and Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf.
It is estimated to contain around 14.2 trillion cubic meters of gas, equal to seven percent of the world's proven reserves and roughly 50 percent of Iran's.
Iran's gas reserves, estimated at 812 trillion cubic feet and accounting for 15.8 percent of the world's proven gas reserves, are only the second largest, exceeded by those of Russia.
Most of the sub-fields have been awarded for development, with each phase attracting around one billion dollars in foreign investment.
South Pars is due to be developed up to 30 phases over at least 25 years, eventually producing 25,000 billion cubic feet of gas per day and 1 million barrels of condensate per day.
Phases 2 and 3, developed by French Total, Russian Gazprom and Malaysian Petronas, are already operational, which will eventually produce 2 billion cubic feet per day of gas on top of 80,000 bpd of condensate.
Phases 1, 6, 7 and 8 have been awarded to domestic entity Petropars, which has undertaken to produce up to 11 billion cubic feet of natural gas on top of 120,000 bpd of condensate.
Agip Iran, a subsidiary of Italian Eni has won Phases 4 and 5 along with Petropars to eventually produce 80,000 bdp of condensate as well as 1 million tons of LPG per year and more than 1 million tons of ethane annually.
The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) has said that development work on Phases 4 and 5 were more than 85 percent complete, with the two phases expected to yield their first products before the end of the current Iranian year on March 20, 2005.
According to NIOC, Phases 4 and 5 are also expected to produce 50 million cubic meters of gas per day.
Phases 9 and 10 have been awarded to South Korea's Lucky Goldstar (LG) for development over a period of 44 months.
Iranian energy officials have also offered Phases 11 and 12 for bids, before retracting Phase 12, saying it needed further study.
Each phase requires an investment between 800 million dollars and 1 billion dollars, but some specialists have voiced their doubts about Phase 12.
NIOC managing director, Mehdi Mir-Moezzi, said in April that Total had won a bid to develop Phase 11.
The gas extracted during Phase 11 operations is expected to be exported to European countries.
Mir-Moezzi said negotiations were also continuing with officials of Royal Dutch/Shell and Repsol for Phase 13.
Phase 14 is basically considered for GTL, with the project being regarded yet a far-flung project.
In September, a senior Iranian energy official said at least six foreign companies are bidding to develop Phases 15 and 16 of the massive South Pars gas field.
Director of the Pars Oil and Gas Company, Asadollah Salehi-Forouz announced that South Korean Hyundai and LG, British Foster Wheeler, French Technip, Norwegian Aker Kvaerner as well as Swiss ABB have teamed up with several domestic entities, vying for the project.
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