Tehran — Iran is adding gasoline storage capacity as the coronavirus pandemic curbed gasoline demand and the Persian Gulf Star refinery is being expanded.
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The country moved 770,000 barrels of crude oil out of storage to make room for gasoline stockpiles, the oil ministry's news service Shana reported May 31. The crude was moved from the oil terminals at the northern Neka port to the Tehran oil refinery, Arsalan Rahimi, director of the Oil Pipelines and Telecommunication Co. for the northern region, said, according to Shana. The transfer occurred over the past few days, creating new capacity for gasoline at the Neka oil terminals, he said. After dredging by the Oil Terminals Co., the gasoline transfer and storage through the Rey-Sari-Neka pipeline will begin, he said.
Iran has been one of the hardest hit nations in the Middle East from the coronavirus pandemic. Gasoline demand has dropped to about 55 million liters/day from 70 million to 75 million liters/day in November. Iran doesn't report gasoline stockpiles publicly but Rahimi said the country is intentionally adding capacity to store oil products as a domestic policy matter.
The increased capacity is coming as the Persian Gulf Star refinery is being expanded, adding even more pressure for increased storage space. The refinery which uses gas condensates from the offshore South Pars gas field has been pivotal to help Iran cut millions of liters of gasoline imports.
Capacity is being expanded to meet cleaner gasoline requirements but an oversupply has been created by the drop in driving and gasoline demand. And available storage tanks are in the north and the refinery is in the south. The 420,000 b/d gas condensates refinery produces 45 million liters of gasoline and 17 million liters of gas oil daily and plans to boost products output by 20% by October, or to 54 million liters of gasoline/day.
The southeast region has created 120 million liters of storage for gasoline from the refinery, ISNA reported on May 9, citing Ali Ahmadipour, deputy head of operations affairs at the Oil Pipelines and Telecommunications. A crude oil tank in Tehran's Moghanak region has been emptied to make room for 40 million liters of gasoline storage capacity, and the Sari region in the north is also preparing to allocate space for gasoline storage, Ahmadipour said.
"It seems that in summer the conditions will improve and possible increased traffic and higher gasoline consumption will lessen the concern over gasoline storage," he said, adding that the coronavirus pandemic hasn't disrupted operations.
"Fortunately, in the current year (2020-2021) gas oil and other products didn't have any problem regarding storage and transfer," he said.