Assaluyeh stakes its claim to be global energy hub

Vol 8, PW 3 (05 May 04) People & Policy

Iran could teach India a thing or two about development of oil and gas infrastructure.

In just six years Iran has transformed the sleepy Persian Gulf coastal village of Assaluyeh into a showpiece for the countrys ambitious plans to monetise its massive untapped natural gas reserves. PETROWATCH visited Assaluyeh on 27th April on an invitation from the National Iranian Gas Export Company to see how this 200-year-old village of fishermen, tomato and date farmers will in another five or six years become a global energy hub.

Disembark at Assaluyehs bristling new airport and drive 3-km north to the Pars Special Economic Zone to see frenetic construction activity all around. Huge tanks are being constructed to store natural gas or LPG; layer upon layer of pipelines snake around within neatly fenced off construction sites; cement concrete batching plants, excavators and bulldozers, giant mobile cranes and other equipment dot the landscape, offering unmistakable evidence of Irans commitment to the project.

Trucks filled with construction materials speed up and down smooth six-lane highways to the ten phases on 14,000 hectares of land to process sour or wet gas from the giant offshore South Pars gasfield that Iran shares with Qatar. Five tall stacks spew tongues of orange flames and soot high into the sky, flaring acid gas from the first 500m cf/d train of Phase-1, adding colour to the bare Zagros mountains behind.

Mohammed Emami, Project Manager, Pars Oil and Gas Company, explains the work done so far and future plans. Six years ago Assaluyeh was a village of only 7,000 people, he said.

Today, 100,000 people are working daily at the construction sites. Pride and determination beam from Emamis voice as he tells us that a massive $15bn of investment has already been made since the first construction contracts were awarded in 1997.

By 2007 all ten phases will be operational and producing 10bn cf/d gas, 400,000 b/d condensate, 3.2m t/y LPG and 2m t/y ethane, adds Emami. The next ten phases located at Tombak port, 45-km away are for LNG export.