SHANA — Iran has one of the most extended gas pipelines in the region. Last calendar year to March 20, Iran extended its gas pipelines to 37,343 kilometers. Furthermore, 86 gas compressors are under operation while 316 have already become operational across the country.
Saeed Tavakoli, CEO of Iran Gas Transmission Company (IGTC), tells “Iran Petroleum” that Iran managed to distribute about 247 bcm of gas last calendar year at a sustainable rhythm.
Here is the full text of the interview Tavakoli gave to “Iran Petroleum”:
How much gas did Iran distribute last calendar year?
IGTC conducted a series of important measures last calendar year (1398), including distribution of about 247 bcm of gas, which was up 8 bcm year-on-year. Moreover, 170 periodic overhauls of compressor units (turbines and compressors), 8,300 kilometers of pigging and 2,886 kilometers of smart pigging were carried out in the same year. We have managed to carry out smart pigging and guarantee sustainable gas transmission despite the US’s withdrawal from the JCPOA and the ensuing exit of many foreign companies.
In terms of safety, volume of installations and equipment, as well as preparedness and reaction under emergency conditions, we are among the top companies in the region.
In 1398, we hit a record 800 mcm/d of natural gas transmission. It has to be taken into account that the volume of gas transmission is proportionate with supply at points of production. Since we witnessed increased output in 1398 with the startup of new South Pars phases, we felt obliged to not let any gas stay at production points. We increased the gas transmission rate and no gas was staid. We maintained 100% gas supply sustainability for three consecutive years at the first month of winter when gas consumption reached its peak. It means that emergency gas transmission installations did not stop working.
How was it possible?
To that end, we set up a maintenance system based on physical assets. For the first time in the country’s gas network, 18 compressors operated without any replacement. Furthermore, through engineering expertise, we managed to have a 50% increase in the nominal capacity of stations and gas transmission pipelines under emergency conditions. We overhauled and monitored our systems during the first half of the year in order to guarantee a sustained gas transmission in winter. Although we were faced with heavy flooding in late March 2019, we had no fire or explosion, nor did we have any reparation in our gas transmission infrastructure or halt in our activities. As mentioned before, one reason for our success was precise reparation based on the network needs. Since our concerns over gas supply during consumption peak are not limited to winter and we also face consumption peak at power plants in summer, we embarked on the transmission network detection from the very beginning and used maintenance systems relying on physical assets to maintain our equipment.
Are there any specific criteria for maintenance?
Naturally, our maintenance of equipment has to be done based on specific indexes. We have also to take into account the fact that we are under sanctions and therefore no foreign supplier or company would help us with maintenance. Therefore, we have taken this factor into consideration and we know that we have to rely on domestic companies. In order to cover the risk, we were exposed to assess domestic companies. We also engage a number of knowledge-based companies and startups and informed them about our needs.
Through a gradual process, we assigned our maintenance and manufacturing tasks to domestic companies. We started with the manufacturing of parts and equipment. When the domestic companies became mature we negotiated with knowledge-based companies and asked them to develop the required equipment. Currently, domestic companies are supplying most of our needs. For instance, some of our required items like filters had been purchased from foreign companies, but now we are manufacturing them all entirely in Iran. So is the case with the oil we use in rotary equipment. Among other important measures we undertook last calendar year, was to use composites with Iranian-engineered formula in repairing our equipment. Until recently we could not carry out immunization with composite for high-pressure pipes entirely in the country and the companies that were active in this sector were mainly commercial and used to import raw materials for composites without transferring in any technical knowhow. Therefore, we conducted research two years ago in this regard and we have now developed the formula for composite manufacturing. That can ensure us that we would not face any problems. In Iran, three companies have been qualified to conduct composite-based repair.
How have sanctions affected the gas transmission network?
Every change would definitely affect Iran’s gas transmission network, but fortunately resilience and more importantly preparedness and reaction to emergency conditions is high at IGTC. We have developed specific plans for all of our reparations and measures. We know quite well that we are under sanctions and technology owners would not provide us with necessary equipment. We had started working on some of equipment which we could not manufacture in Iran and we managed to produce many of them. When the sanctions were toughened and we are barred from the cooperation of top companies our activities did not stop and we continued our work.
Of course, it is noteworthy that the US’s withdrawal from the JCPOA and subsequently the re-imposition of sanctions affected our activity. But we transformed this threat into an opportunity and turned to manufacturing commodities and items which we could not produce through getting help from knowledge-based companies and startups. For instance, we are currently manufacturing most instruments, mechanical and electrical equipment in Iran.
Has the Covid-19 outbreak affected IGTC’s activities?
First of all, I have to acknowledge that the outbreak of Covid-19 caused problems for us in Iran because since two years ago we carry out our annual overhaul in March. This time, it coincided with the Covid-19 outbreak. Naturally, it caused problems to our planning. However, we tried to go ahead with our plans based on schedule. We limited our activities related to periodical technical inspection and visits and carry them out in line with necessary protocols. We had to reduce the number of our staff in order to respect social distancing and health protocols and therefore the work was done with more pressure. However, we managed to carry out our reparation in line with the health instructions of the Petroleum Ministry and social distancing. The number of IGTC staff infected with Covid-19 has so far been very low and we have fortunately lost none of our colleagues over this time.
Has gas transmission volume declined?
No, we have not had any reduction in gas transmission to consumers and the transmission network has been working based on national dispatching needs. In fact, the entire gas produced in the country is transmitted to consumers and the coronavirus has not caused any restrictions to gas transmission.
Covid-19 restrictions seem to continue as Covid-19 is not disappearing any time soon. How will it affect Iran’s gas transmission network?
Our main activity in Iran’s gas transmission network pertains to maintenance of equipment for safe and sustained gas supply. With the Covid-19 outbreak, we also adapted our maintenance and reparation to the coronavirus-related conditions by reducing the time of people’s presence and their risks. As I mentioned before, we are transmitting the whole gas we are producing. There has been no cut to water and electricity supply and we have had no halt in gas supply either.
Courtesy of Iran Petroleum