Dubai: Iran plans to start producing gas and condensate at Phases 17 and 18 of the South Pars offshore deposit by late March, boosting output of the fuel that it wants to use as feedstock to triple its petrochemicals output.

The two new South Pars phases will produce a combined 50 million cubic meters a day of gas and 80,000 barrels a day of condensate, Hassan Jahangiri, implementation and project manager at Pars Oil & Gas Co, said on Thursday in the southern port of Assaluyeh. They are scheduled for completion by the new Iranian calendar year starting March 21, he said.

“The project is about 95 per cent complete, and it will be ready to be inaugurated before the end of this Iranian year,” Jahangiri said of the two phases. “We are waiting for gas from the offshore fields.”

Iran, with the world’s biggest natural gas reserves, according to BP Plc data, is raising production from South Pars to provide fuel for power plants as well as raw material for chemical factories. It plans to develop the Arabian Gulf deposit in 24 phases, of which 11 are currently producing. The country wants the nearby city of Assaluyeh to become a hub for producing petrochemicals, which are used to manufacture plastics.

Triple production

The Middle Eastern country plans to add some 40 million tonnes of annual petrochemicals production capacity at Assaluyeh in the next five years, Mohammad Hasan Peyvandi, vice president of Iran’s National Petrochemical Co., said Wednesday in an interview in Tehran. The country seeks in the next decade to triple production of petrochemicals from the 60 million metric tonmes a year it makes currently, he said.

The Islamic republic is preparing to rebuild its economy after more than a decade of economic sanctions have choked off foreign investment and access to energy markets. Iran agreed in July to accept limits on its nuclear programme in return for a removal of sanctions, which have targeted exports of petrochemicals as well as oil.

Iran plans to build eight condensate refineries for about $3 billion (Dh11 billion) at the Siraf complex in Assaluyeh, each with a planned output of 60,000 barrels a day, Alireza Sadegh Abadi, project director for Siraf, said Thursday in a phone interview. Local companies building the plants will be able to seek foreign investment after sanctions are lifted, he said.

LNG plans

Lack of investment due to sanctions has prevented Iran from completing its first facility to liquefy gas for export by ship. Iran will prioritise exporting gas by pipeline for the next three years until it can finish building the LNG terminal, Azizollah Ramazani, director of international affairs for National Iranian Gas Co, said in an interview Tuesday.

Iran plans to boost gas output to 1.4 billion cubic meters a day by 2021, according to Roknoddin Javadi, managing director of state-run National Iranian Oil Co. The country doesn’t export any gas now due to high domestic demand and will need to make at least $50 billion of capital expenditure to start shipping the fuel, Ildar Davletshin, an analyst at Moscow-based investment bank Renaissance Capital, said in a report issued Thursday.