Iran Gas Sector Set for Self-Reliance in Shadow of Sanctions

TEHRAN (Shana) -- Today a major requirement for survival in the tightly competitive market and the blossoming of an industrial enterprise would be to monitor industrial and technological progress, market and rivals as well as development of technology based on potential and practical capabilities of every company. Given the identity of each industrial enterprise, part of these activities is handled by R&D and IT divisions.

Saeed Pakseresht, former R&D director at National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC), said the company is supplying the bulk of its needs via domestic firms. Meeting domestic needs is under way in parallel with the development of science and technology. Iranian companies are no longer representing foreign companies; rather they are now equipped with cutting-edge technology.

Paying attention to Iranian knowledge-based companies, communicating with parks of science and technology, benefiting from the potentialities of Iranian manufacturers and broadening research work are among achievements in Iran’s gas sector. However, when it comes to economic development and progress in a country, the role of domestic manufacturers and suppliers of equipment, particularly suppliers of technical knowhow and technology, takes up added significance. Such thing will not happen necessarily under conditions of sanctions because when we look at the successful experience of developed nations we find out that they have taken preplanned steps towards meeting technological needs.

Iran has been moving in such a direction since long time ago. At least, it has regulated policies for domestic suppliers and manufacturers, as well as suppliers of technical knowhow to grow. Recent years bear proof to this fact.

Policymaking Significance under Sanctions

Pakseresht said Iran had to make arrangements before experiencing economic growth and development.

He said over recent years Iran had been talking about economic resilience, adding: “We believe that we should regulate our economy so as to bring about development and basic knowledge in the country.”

He said: “We should regulate our affairs on such basis. Then we will move towards supporting domestic manufacturing before speaking about boost in production.”

Policymaking is instrumental in the gas industry. This issue takes up added significance when sanctions are imposed. Under such circumstances, domestic and knowledge-based companies become more prominent.

Pakseresht said: “I agree that sanctions are worrying; however, the results of sanctions may help us move towards further growth and development so that we would reach our objectives much more quickly.”

The unilateral and unlawful sanctions imposed by the United States against Iran have certainly caused some problems for Iran’s oil and gas industry. But if they are looked into at a higher level, one will see that the sanctions have made Iran much more resistant.

Pakseresht said: “While causing hardships to us, the sanctions have helped accelerate our growth trend. We may reach the objectives previously envisaged much sooner.”

During Iran’s recent oil show this year, many domestic companies had managed to fill the void left by foreign companies.

“We are also supplying many of our needs through domestic companies and we are delighted to see that the supply of domestic needs has been in parallel with the growth of knowledge and technology,” said Pakseresht.

He said: “Domestic companies have had good performance in engineering, operation, as well as growth of knowledge and technology. I dare to say with certainty that we are not worried about the absence of foreign companies.”

Pakseresht said: “We can build whatever we need by relying on intelligence, expertise and experience of our wise experts and youth.”

He added that the “activities done in the sector of knowledge, research and technology have predicted all our needs in the gas industry cycle.”

Pakseresht said: “We pin hope on knowledge-based economy. When we talk about technological products we mean that R&D has the final say because research is supposed to provide knowledge in favor of science, production and economy.”

Gas Sector R&D

Over 4,000 knowledge-based companies and a large number of knowledge-based companies specializing in the petroleum industry, as well as parks of science and technology are based in Iran. That is the result of policymaking and support by state-run companies like NIGC.

“In today’s industrialized world, we are adopting a new approach on a daily basis towards knowledge and technology; one day by awarding projects to research companies, another day by establishing knowledge-based companies and directing them towards supply of products and industrial needs,” said Pakseresht.

He said that gas technomarket had taken shape to handle the establishment of ecosystem of technology and innovation. In such ecosystem, various actors are interacting with one another.

He added: “In the gas industry technomkaret, we create the main actors and form various sectors. Different conditions are experienced in such technomarket. In some cases, suppliers may not financially afford costs, in which case we seek the assistance of investors.”

“Despite risks, we focus on all aspects of the gas technomarket. The outcome has been excellent so far,” said Pakseresht.

According to him, many research projects have come to fruition in the past one year, providing products which are being used in gas refineries.

“We considered about 30 technological products for the calendar year 1398 (to March 2019), which need about IRR 300 billion in investment,” he said.

Pakseresht said the investment is provided to private or knowledge-based companies in order to transform their endorsed ideas to products needed by the gas industry. “All of this is done within the framework of research contracts for locally-manufactured products because domestic manufacturing and delivery of Iranian products would rest with the knowledge and research sector,” he said.

Pakseresht said knowledge-based companies based in parks of science and technology supply products needed in the gas industry.

“We use NIGC’s budget to supply such products, which guarantees their purchase. In other words, we finance our needs. Our business model at NIGC is such that we bargain for discount when we purchase from knowledge-based companies. The discounts are part of investment return,” he added.

Pakseresht said the main contracts were signed in 2018 with the Khorasan and Pardis parks of science and technology. The parks have used their own knowledge-based companies to supply products mentioned in their contracts with NIGC.

He added: “We prefer to have direct contracts with parks of science and technology rather than with knowledge-based companies because these parks would be able to supply some of knowledge-based companies’ needs.”

The issue of communication with universities pertains to levels lower than technology, i.e. sectors requiring development of technology.

Pakseresht said relationship with universities is established via specialized institutes that were formed in 2016 and 2017. These institutes involve gas processing, liquefied natural gas (LNG), turbine and intelligent gauge. These institutes discuss NIGC issues and concerns with universities and research centers within the framework of agreements.

“Therefore, our priorities are parks of science and technology, knowledge-based companies and then universities and scientific centers,” he said. “But the important point is that all these centers join each other to supply the country’s industrial needs like those of the gas industry so that we would become self-sufficient and our production would become prosperous.”

Mercaptan Self-Sufficiency

One of the important research projects in the South Pars gas field was the mercaptan project which was officially inaugurated last March by President Hassan Rouhani.

“Various departments like gas supply, R&D, technical inspection and HSE are making field assessment of mercaptan products,” said Pakseresht.

“Our activities in South Pars are mainly focused on technomarket. Turboexpanders and control system of the South Pars Gas Complex are under way in cooperation with the Khorasan Park of science and technology,” he added.

“We have long been seeking to prove that domestic manufacturing is tied to science and research. By attaching importance to the issue of research we can realize the objective of production boost,” he said.

Pakseresht said it is the level of expertise that distinguishes real companies from fake ones. “In order to know that, we have no option but to make assessment through R&D,” he added.

Pakseresht said: “If companies prove their capabilities we will trust them. In other words, first these companies have to prove themselves to us and win our trust. In case a company is importing parts and products from abroad and claims to be an Iranian manufacturer we would be able to catch it red-handed.”

He said the right thing would be to classify companies based on their level of knowledge, adding this task rested with the Office of Vice-President for Science and Technology.

“Therefore, every company recognized as knowledge-based is supposed to have gone through all specialized stages, as governing bodies have very meticulous assessment and auditing. Specialized and scientific groups examine the companies technically and economically so that they would be recognized as knowledge-based in case of meeting the minimum requirements,” said Pakseresht.

“We are in close contact with the Office of Vice-President for Science and Technology. When we need to manufacture a product, we ask this Office about knowledge-based companies capable of manufacturing the product we want, so that we would go to companies whose qualifications have already been proven,” he added.

Pakseresht said the technology sector is high-risk, adding: “This issue is always stuck in our mind. If we invest somewhere, it has to be a capital risk for first-time cases. Therefore, we have to take into account this issue and give nascent companies a chance. Besides, based on our experience we can see to what extent they have managed to go ahead in line with our objectives. Therefore, we show flexibility wherever needed.”

Consumption Management

Making smart gas meters to gauge consumption, has been a major objective sought by NIGC over recent years. Ever since this issue was raised at NIGC, the Directorate of Research and Technology has been handling the project. Smart gas meters are built based on the internet of things (IOT). Therefore, our sector of activity is very serious.

This project includes gas meter, data transfer system and analysis software. In other words, the data received in smart gas meters are sent to gas centers real time to be analyzed.

Pakseresht said: “To implement the project we first envisaged a pilot stage or field test. That was done in partnership with the IT, gas supply and R&D divisions by inviting companies to offer their proposals.”

He said that some big cell phone operators had expressed their readiness to be engaged in the data transfer section. “We are currently in the phase of assignment of these pilot projects to companies.”

“What finally counts for us in data transfer of software development is smart reading. Therefore, we sought assistance from the Institute of Smart Assessment and Reading in order to examine the domains of cooperation,” said Pakseresht.

He said that an agreement had been signed with the Sharif University of Technology for the development of software needed in smart reading. “They started their work last March and we hope NIGC objectives would be realized,” he added.

Pakseresht expressed hope for prosperity in business for knowledge-based companies in the current calendar year.

“A major objective set for the R&D Directorate in this year would be to set up an R&D Fund to absorb investments which may be fraught with risk,” he said.

Pakseresht said the fund would be used to support companies willing to supply technological equipment and products.

“We also want to make financial contribution,” he added, expressing hope it would happen in the first half of the current calendar year.

Pakseresht also said that Iranian software would be developed to manage gas transmission lines.

“This simulated software is like GPMS which has been developed with GIS for the gas transmission network,” he said.

Courtesy of Iran Petroleum

News Code 291041

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