Tehran – Karun Petrochemical Company (Karun) expects that HyCo – a “strategic project” to produce feedstocks for the production of isocyanates – will be fully operational by April 2023, according to Iranian officials.
HyCo is a major project of Karun, initiated in June 2020 as part of the Iranian Government’s programme to encourage domestic production of petrochemicals. The country has struggled to acquire materials in the face of long-term international sanctions. The HyCo project – its name a contraction of “hydrogen and carbon monoxide (CO)” – aims to give Iran’s chemical industry a domestic supply of feedstock.
Alireza Seddighi Zadeh, CEO of Karun, said: “HyCo has had 80% physical progress so far and will be ready for utilisation by April 2023.”
Ali Asgari, CEO of project partner Persian Gulf Petrochemical, said that €80m had been allocated to the HyCo project: “However, most of the equipment and essentials were manufactured domestically, thanks to the ability of Iranian engineers.”
Seddighi Zadeh explained that 75% of equipment used in HyCo was sourced from domestic suppliers.
The Iranian Government expects HyCo to be the most important, and most beneficial, component in its policy of indigenisation of petrochemical products. Iranian officials say the nominal capacity of Karun will increase by 100% as a result of HyCo. The company has also allocated 40% extra capacity for the production of MDI, in the wake of the HyCo project.
Seddighi Zadeh believes that Saudi Arabia will present the only serious rival to Karun once HyCo – and related projects – come online: “If Sadara urges to contest with us through selling crude MDI and TDI, we will diversify our products and change the playing field to compete with them.”
To put Zadeh’s boast into context, according to its own figures, Saudi Arabia’s Sadara (a joint venture of Saudi Aramco and Dow) has over 3Mt capacity per year.
Iranian sources say Karun is the first Petrochemical company in west Asia to produce both TDI and MDI, and that it already has 52 major customers in domestic markets, and export markets including Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Local reports suggest Karun is currently operating at 65% capacity.
Alireza Ansari, CEO of Pargasiran, another HyCo partner, announced that his company has supplied locally manufactured reactors for the project.
According to Karun’s Mohammad Miri, in an interview with an Iranian news source, the company has made its own nitrobenzene pump, without the assistance of any foreign companies, by reverse engineering an existing, imported, nitrobenzene pump.
“This pump is one of the most important parts of providing the MDI line’s initial feed, and has reached stable production. Now, the MDI production line has reached 100% of its nominal capacity.”