Iran overtakes Qatar in South Pars with new gas phases

Press TV – Iran on Sunday will launch four new development phases of the world’s largest gas field at South Pars with a capacity to produce 112 million cubic meters per day, the Ministry of Petroleum says.

President Hassan Rouhani will travel to Bushehr in the Persian Gulf to inaugurate two refineries built with $10 billion of investment. With their launch, Iran’s daily gas production will surpass that of Qatar with which it shares the offshore field.

The $5 billion refinery for phase 13 is fully operational, with the first shipping of its gas condensate delivered on March 11 for export, the project’s operator Payam Motamed said. Another refinery for phases 22, 23 and 24 will come online Sunday.

Each plant has a capacity to process 56 million cubic meters of gas per day and convert it to LPG, ethane, condensate and sulfur worth $5.5 billion a year at the going market prices, the ministry’s Shana news outlet said. The revenue, it said, will account for 2 percent of Iran’s GDP of some $427 billion.

Iran has divided development of South Pars to 24 onshore phases, all of which are now operational except for phase 11 and 14.

The refinery for phase 14 is about to come on stream in the next Persian calendar year which begins on March 21, according to ISNA news agency.

Iran had awarded development of phase 11 to a consortium led by Total, but the French company left the project after the US threatened to impose sanctions on companies that do business in the country.

When Total left, China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) was to take over according to the contract, but the Chinese company also suspended investment in response to US pressure.

Nevertheless, state-run Chinese energy giant Sinopec has offered Iran a $3-billion deal on further development of an Iranian oilfield the two countries are already working on, the Wall Street Journal reported in January.

The offshore development of South Pars includes three phases. In January, ISNA said Iran was in talks with several domestic companies to extract more oil from South Pars after foreign companies abandoned the plan.

According to Managing Director of Pars Oil and Gas Company Mohammad Meshkinfam, almost 25,000 barrels a day of oil are currently extracted from South Pars oil layers. Qatar, in comparison, produces 300,000 barrels a day.

Iran’s development of the South Pars oil layers is still at the pilot phase, but the country sees positive prospects for 150,000 barrels per day of recovery in the currently producing reservoir.

Some 400 Iranian companies have been taking part in the development of the South Pars gas field through supplying equipment to related projects.

On Tuesday, Shana said the implementation of projects in South Pars has been delegated to Iranian consortia consisting of contractors, consultants and builders who are utilizing their maximum power and expertise.

Deputy for planning at the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) Karim Zobeidi said there are currently 200 undeveloped oil and gas fields in Iran.

So far, only 42.4 percent of Iran’s oil reserves and 10 percent of its gas has been extracted, Zobeidi said as he also touched on the country’s lower recovery rates.

“The recovery rate of Iranian fields is 10 percent lower than the average rate of recovery in the world,” Shana quoted him as saying.

“Iran’s oil and gas reservoirs and fields have high capacity for research studies,” he added.

NIOC Managing Director Masoud Karbasian said the company would issue 20 billion rials ($476,000) of fixed-rate Manfa’at bonds on Wednesday (March 13).

The bonds, he said, will help finance the development of NIOC’s oil and gas projects and be sold on the over-the-counter Fara Bourse market for securities in Tehran.