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Iran Turns to Dirty Heavy Fuel Oil amid Gas Shortage

Iran’s consumption of low-quality residual heavy fuel oil has jumped at cement factories in recent months amid natural gas shortages in the winter, a cement industry executive has told Iranian news agency ILNA. 

As cement factories in the Islamic Republic have significantly reduced consumption of natural gas, they now rely mostly on the much more polluting heavy fuel oil, the so-called mazut, as a feedstock for production, Ali-Akbar Alvandian, the secretary of the Association of Employers of the Cement Industry in Iran, said.  

Iran’s heavy fuel oil consumption at cement factories has jumped sevenfold and around 70% of cement production now relies on that type of fuel. At the same time, consumption of natural gas has slumped to 6 million cubic meters per day in the winter, compared to a usual daily consumption of around 27 million cubic meters, according to Alvandian.  

Iran uses residual heavy fuel oil at the cement production facilities even in the summer, according to a document from the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC), obtained by Iran International.

Despite huge natural gas reserves, Iran faces shortages of the fuel as demand for power plants, households, and small industries has grown. To cope with the rise in gas demand in these sectors, Iran has reduced natural gas supplies to heavy industries such as cement production, steelmaking, and petrochemicals, Iran International reports.

Iran lost $800 million in petrochemical exports due to gas supply shortages last year, Mehdi Mahdavi Abhari, the Secretary-General of the Petrochemical Employers Association, said last week, per Iran International.

Last year, Iran began production from the Phase 11 development stage of its South Pars gas field, part of the world’s largest natural gas resource.

The shortage of gas in Iran could also threaten to leave some oilfields unproductive with not enough gas to re-inject to boost oil flows, according to Arash Najafi, the head of the Energy Commission of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, Iran International reported in November.

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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