The Managing Director of the National
Petrochemical Company (NPC) announced that the second Iran Plast Exhibition
was received more enthusiastically than the previous year and was attended by
170 companies from 21 countries in addition to 287 domestic firms.
Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh also explained
that holding the exhibition could pave the way for the elimination of
monopolies in Iranian petrochemical industries.
"Many people think that since we are the
biggest polymer production unit in the country, we want to monopolize the
industry, but we invited our rivals, so that, consumers would become familiar
with the quality of their work. Developing polymer industry is our long-term
policy. Heavy investments have been made in the sector and we would become one
of the biggest countries producing polymer in the future," he said.
value of products of the Iranian petrochemical industries had been
projected at $20 billion over a 10-year outlook.
Nematzadeh stated that polymer
production capacity was to increase by 1.2 million tons next year. He added
that the value of products of the Iranian petrochemical industries had been
projected at $20 billion over a 10-year outlook.
"Of course, this would depend on growth
of downstream industries. If they grew satisfactorily they could account for
up to 50% of the figure. However, if the current growth trend continued, our
exports would reach $15 billion over a 10-year period," he said.
The managing director of the National
Petrochemical Company went on to note that presence in the global markets was
a policy of the company. "We are going to sign a contract with a foreign
consultant to study overseas markets. We are planning to capture a share of
production outside Iran," he aid.
Nematzadeh said target markets for
Iran’s petrochemical products included China, India and Turkey and "if
possible" the European markets. He stated that there were no obstacles to
presence in the Turkish market.
"However, since Turkey is considered to
be part of Europe, import tariffs for products coming from Europe are lower in
that country and, therefore, we have to cut our price by 7-8 percent to be
able to compete with them," he said.
Nematzadeh added that Iran’s total
petrochemical production would hit 50 million tons within the next 10 years
and it enjoyed the most rapid growth rate in the world in terms of production
capacity. "We would rank first in the Middle East in terms of petrochemical
industries and our petrochemical exports are projected to reach 6-7 billion
dollars by the end of the Fourth Economic Development Plan," he noted.
Petrochemical industries are among the
world’s oldest industries. The first chemical was made many years ago by Al-Razi.
After that, chemistry saw many ups and downs. Discovery of oil and efforts to
refine it led to a big leap in manufacturing many kinds of chemicals. At last,
after synthesis of urea by Friedrich Wöhler in 1828 through dissolution of
ammonium cyanide, petrochemical industry entered a new phase and petrochemical
products found a place in industrial, social and other aspects of human life.
Plastics, rubbers and various fibers are some products that are very important
in our everyday lives. Many new machines and tools used in a wide range of
industries from aerospace to cosmetics are made of polymers. At present, many
polymer alloys are made to be used as resistant plastic parts against erosion,
shock, heat and impact of chemicals. For example such alloys are used in
manufacturing automobile bumpers and study results indicate that they might
even replace steel. Manufacture of various kinds of disposable dishes,
television cases, automobile tires, sports instruments and toys are other
applications of polymers without which the modern life would have been very
Asia and, especially the Middle
East have overshadowed the share of other parts of the world in producing such
products by enjoying rich resources so much so that the Middle East is
expected to become a production pole in this regard in the near future.
Polymer, in general, and PVC, in
particular, was first produced in Abadan in 1970 to the amount of 36,000 tons
and this was a prelude to introduction of this important product to the lives
of the Iranian nation. Since that time, many developments have taken place. A
glance at production figures for past years would be indicative. North America
ranked first in polymer production in 1990 by accounting for 29% of global
output followed by Asia and Western Europe. However since 1995, Asia has
overtaken North America and now ranks first in polymer production by
accounting for 33% of global output followed by North America. Share of Middle
East in polymer production is expected to increase from 4% in 1990 to 8% by
the end of 2005.
Polyethylene, polypropylene, PVC
(polyvinyl chloride), PET (polyethylene terephthalate) and polystyrene,
account for the lion’s share of global polymer production. Based on current
projections, when the underway petrochemical projects are made operational,
petrochemical production would increase from the current figure of 970,000
tons per year (produced by Tabriz, Bandar Imam and Arak petrochemical
complexes) to 5 million tons per year in 2006. This would be a great leap, so
that Iran would account for the highest production capacity in the region
(44%) to be followed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia. This goal is to be realized
through implementation of such projects as the 10th olefin by Jam
Petrochemical Company whose olefin unit with the annual capacity of 1.32
million tons is the world’s biggest olefin unit, as well as downstream units
that produce light linear polyethylene, heavy polyethylene and polypropylene,
each with a capacity of 300,000 tons per year. Other projects including ninth
and 11th olefins are underway at Pars Special Economic Energy Zone and are
expected to boost polymer production.
polymers by taking advantage of gas reserves has two aspects. Firstly,
development of downstream industries would lead to development of domestic
industry, job creation and technology transfer. Secondly, exporting polymers
would bring hard currency to the country and turn Iran into a polymer
production pole in the world.
Statistics show that Western Europe and
Asia were major polymer importers and would need about 6.5 million tons
polymers in 2005. This fact combined with changing consumption model in Europe
and high demand for such products can make polymers a focus of attention. At
present, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar rank first to third in terms of
polymer exports among Middle East countries and in view of underway projects,
Iran is expected to rank the second in exporting polymers by 2005 that would
account for about 5% of global polymer trade. However, total production in the
Middle East would account for 29.8% of global output.
Perhaps information about price of
polymer products would highlight the above figures. Take soft drink bottles
for example. If we note that every ton of PET is sold for %850 in Japan, the
value of this chemical would become more evident. PVC is a valuable polymer
which is sold for 580-600 dollars per ton in the Asian markets and 610-640
dollars per ton in the Middle East. Both chemicals are among basic polymers in
demand across the world. In view of the high added value of petrochemical
products, it becomes clear that gas exports alone would be a waste of national