Refining and Transport
At the beginning of 1977, Iran had six refineries in operation,
with a combined capacity of more than 800,000 bpd. In 1986 Iran
had refineries operating in Esfahan, Tabriz, Bakhtaran (formerly
known as Kermanshah), Shiraz, Qom, Tehran, and Lavan Island, with
a combined capacity of more than 1 million bpd. All contributed
to the domestic supply of petroleum products, but the Abadan refinery
in the late 1970s produced primarily for export. The high cost
of transportation led to regional location of refineries. Pipelines
brought the crude oil from the fields to the refineries for processing
and regional distribution of products.
The Abadan refinery, located on the Persian Gulf, was completed
in 1912 and, until bombed and destroyed in 1980 by Iraq, remained
one of the world's largest, with a capacity of 628,000 bpd. Foreign
oil companies had operated it until the 1973 NIOC takeover. About
20 percent of its production had gone to the domestic market in
the early 1970s, but in 1973 the NIOC geared the industry toward
domestic needs and local consumption. The Abadan refinery was
linked by pipeline to several fields and a seaport; the pipeline
ran from Abadan north to Tehran, and then along Iran's northern
border from Tabriz in the west to Mashhad in the east.
The other refineries were smaller than the one at Abadan. Two,
built and operated by the NIOC, were located near Tehran to supply
that market; one was completed in 1968 and the other in 1975.
Both were supplied by pipelines from the southwestern oil fields.
An additional pipeline also carried petroleum products from the
Abadan refinery for distribution in the Tehran area.
Crude oil for the Bakhtaran refinery came from a field close
to the Iraqi border; the Shiraz refinery, completed in 1973 with
a capacity of 40,000 bpd, distributed its products in the southern
and eastern parts of the country. A topping plant (see Glossary),
constructed in the 1930s, operated at Masjed-e Soleyman in southwestern
Iran. It supplied oil for the domestic market and sent distillates
by pipeline to the Abadan refinery.
A refinery in Tabriz, constructed in 1975 and having a capacity
of 80,000 bpd, supplied the northwestern area of the country.
Petroleum consumption had increased rapidly in the northwest,
and a pipeline was completed by 1976 from Tehran to Tabriz to
supply crude to the refinery.
Khark Island, located 483 kilometers from the mouth of the Persian
Gulf and about 25 kilometers off the coast of Iran, was the principal
sea terminal until bombed by the Iraqis in 1985 and 1986; it had
been the world's largest offshore crude oil terminal. Export of
refined products then reverted to the terminal at Bandar-e Mashur
in southwestern Iran, which had been used before the construction
of the Khark Island installation.
The availability of new oil terminals allowed Iran to expand
its oil production. In the 1960s, crude was sent to Abadan, then
exported from Abadan and Bandar-e Mashur. The construction of
the Khark Island terminal to export crude oil permitted use of
Bandar-e Mashur exclusively for product exports. Some 95 percent
of the crude oil came from the producing fields of Agha Jari,
Karenj, Marun, Pariz, Bibi Hakimeh and Ahvaz.
During the 1980s, the Khark Island terminal continued to be responsible
for 80 percent of oil exports. Khark Island had two terminals,
one on a jetty and the other on a small island off the west coast
of the island. The first was a complete complex, and the second
was used for quick loading of ships. The jetty was bombed by Iraq
to disrupt Iran's main shipping point in early 1985 and again
more heavily in September 1985. Shipments were slowed at the jetty,
and the island terminal section was devastated.
Aside from Bandar-e Mashur, other export facilities were developed
both inside and outside the Persian Gulf. To reduce the threat
from Iraq, facilities were expanded at the port of Jask, located
just outside the Persian Gulf on the Gulf of Oman, and Sirri Island
became an alternative loading point. A petroleum shuttle was initiated
between Khark and Sirri islands, and Khark Island continued to
export most of the country's oil until additional Iraqi bombing
in January 1986. Reduced exports remained possible through the
use of the shuttle service to Sirri Island, with its floating
terminal for storage and reloading. The August 1986 bombing of
shuttle tankers to Sirri and the resulting increase in insurance
rates, however, prevented even this level of exports. Because
the pipelines for Khark converge at a pumping station at Ganaveh
(about forty kilometers northeast of Khark on the Gulf) before
going underwater, Ganaveh replaced Khark as the western terminus
of the oil shuttle to Sirri Island in the mid-1980s.
Data as of December 1987