Isfahan refinery is also the main supplier of feedstock to
Sepahan Oil Company, Isfahan Petrochemical Plant, Arak Petrochemical Plant, Jey
Oil Refining Company and Iran Chemical Industries Company.
Isfahan refinery was designed jointly by an American and a
German company in 1973 in order to refine crude oil and petroleum products and
feed downstream industries. It came on-stream in 1979 by Iranian engineers.
The treatment facility comprises two almost identical
refineries, the most significant of which incorporates distillation, liquefied
petroleum gas (LPG) production, viscosity reduction, catalytic conversion,
hydrogen production, isomax, gasoline production, special solvents, utilities
and steam, and amine and sulfur recovery divisions.
The crude oil needed by the refinery is supplied from Maroun
oil center, located 70 kilometers from Ahvaz. A 430-kilometer pipeline, dotted
with seven compressor stations, provide the required oil.
A comprehensive processing improvement project is currently
under way at Isfahan refinery as one of the most significant environmental
plans at this giant refining facility, aimed at upgrading the quality of
petroleum products and reducing fuel oil output.
Morteza Ebrahimi, CEO of IORC, said the core products
supplied by this company were gasoline, gasoil and fuel oil.
“Given the requirement for the refineries to reduce
environmental pollution and upgrade the quality of refined products, we are
currently implementing projects to upgrade the quality of our three major
products (gasoline, gasoil and fuel oil), which make up the bulk of our
production,” he said.
Gasoline is a strategic refined product in Iran. Over recent
years, Iran’s Petroleum Ministry has obligated all crude oil refining units to
upgrade the quality of their gasoline. That requires the supply of necessary
IORC had such policy on its agenda, but the implementation
of this policy coincided with tough sanctions against Iran’s petroleum
industry, which barred any entry of catalysts into Iran for different sections
of the refining industry.
Ebrahimi said: “Upgrading the quality of gasoline produced
at this company started during sanctions, but when the project was 90% complete
the sanctions were toughened such that we were not allowed to buy rotary
equipment to keep catalysts running. Foreign companies did not come to install
and launch the compressors either. Therefore, we decided to hire domestic
companies to design this catalyst and launch compressors.”
Therefore, Isfahan refinery produced the most sophisticated
refining catalyst in the world for gasoline production, which was monopolized
by American and French giants, and launched the gasoline plant in 2015. By supplying
an average 11 ml/d of Euro-4 gasoline, the facility has largely contributed to
reducing air pollution in Isfahan and other megacities. Furthermore, gasoil
refining units for Euro05 gasoil production are 93% complete now. Operation of
this project would help Isfahan refinery supply more than 20 ml/d Euro-5
gasoil. Currently, 1.5 ml/d of Euro-5 gasoil is being supplied for daily use in
Meantime, some units are under construction at the refinery
to remove about 100,000 b/d of heavy fuel from the facility’s mix and rather
than that add environmentally friendly products.
IORC is supplying the gasoline needed in12 provinces across
Iran, Ebrahimi said. “By operating quality upgrade projects at this company,
gasoil pollution will be reduced next [calendar] year and we will be producing
Euro-4 and Euro-5 gasoil.”
No Sanctions-Caused Halt
Fuel oil is among highly polluting products. Upgrading the
fuel oil unit was among IORC plans and to that effect an agreement was signed
with South Korea’s Dailem. But due to US sanctions against Iran’s petroleum
industry, the Korean company left Iran.
“Given the capabilities of domestic companies, arrangements
have been made to continue the project with domestic companies,” said Ebrahimi.
He said IORC’s fuel oil production capacity stood at 30
ml/d, adding the current output varied between 10 ml/d and 18 ml/d.
“Based on environmental obligations, fuel oil production
will be zeroed. Furthermore, given the fuel oil quality upgrade project we plan
to bring fuel oil production to zero in four years,” he added.
Ebrahimi referred to the sulfur production unit of IORC,
saying: “This unit whose capacity stands at 630 tonnes a day is to come online
by the end of the current [calendar] year.”
Phase III Distillation Unit
The refining capacity of IORC was 200,000 b/d at startup.
The figure has now nearly doubled to 378,000 b/d. That is why separating towers
are supplying a variety of products. This traffic of products will be reduced
once the distillation section of the refinery comes online. Furthermore, the
quality of other refined products will be upgraded.
The startup of the distillation unit will significantly cut
pollution caused by the refined petroleum products. Consequently, the
refinery’s fuel oil output will decline.
The IORC chief said the refinery’s distillation capacity is
beyond the current 145,000 b/d. “Therefore, when the distillation units are
overhauled our production capacity does not fall,” he added.
IORC will bring its operation to an optimum level with the
startup of Phase III distillation unit. Distillation units 1 and 2 will be
producing 120,000 b/d of petroleum products while the viscosity units of the
refinery will switch from crude oil fractioning cycle to fuel oil fractioning.
Courtesy of Iran Petroleum
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