Teheran - Only weeks after the world heard news of a revival in Iran’s ambitious plans to get a foothold in the global market of liquefied natural gas (LNG), speculations are now emerging that the country’s first consignments of the strategic fuel could flow to markets in 12 months’ time. The Business Monitor International (BMI) – the international publisher of specialist business information – said in a report that the first yields in Iran’s LNG production campaign could come from a floating liquefaction project the country plans to launch in the Persian Gulf waters. The project – a joint venture between Iran and Norway’s Hemla Vantage – could give Iran a tactical advantage to deepen relations with its partners in Europe and Asia, wrote the BMI. Iran’s media reported in late October that the country’s National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) had signed an agreement with Hemla Vantage based on which a liquefaction plant would be installed on a vessel leased from Belgium’s Exmar near the Kharg Island. The project whose value has been estimated at $600 million would have an annual production of 500,000 tonnes of LNG over period of 20 years. It is projected to use as its feedstock the natural gas which is currently flared at South Pars Phases 17 & 18.
Based on primary US sanctions against Iran in place for decades now, foreign enterprises have been banned from providing the technology for liquefaction of natural gas to the Islamic Republic – a technology which is patented by American enterprises. The ensuing failure of companies to investing in Iran’s liquefaction projects have already taken three of the country’s main LNG project down the drain – Persian LNG, Pars LNG and NIOC/Iran LNG. The BMI further added that the project could build the foundation of what could become a profitable business in a future where LNG would only continue to gain prominence over oil. “Iran offers one of the fastest options to employ and monetize the currently redundant Caribbean FLNG vessel,” BMI said. “The facility was constructed to process natural gas, which has a high methane content of 97.6 percent. While the gas feed from South Pars is far wetter, with greater gas liquids and condensate content, methane from flared gas at nearby offshore projects is the targeted supply.”