Iran Gas Industry
Iran Gas Industry
Having a glance at the writings of the ancient historians, one can realize that Iranians were the pioneers of using natural gas and oil derivatives. For example, the existence of the ruins of fireplaces and temples like the immortal fire near Kirkuk, known as Bokht-Ul-Nasr torch was located near a natural gas reservoir. Zoroastrians' temple near Masjid ¬Soleyman and historical narrations regarding Azargoshasb fireplace, all together is proof for this very claim. Ancient Iranians, based on the norms of their own religion, esteemed fire, and tried to keep it alive. In central and southern plateaus of Iran and the regions where dense woods existed, Iranians used some other things apart from wood taken from jungle to keep the holy fire alive and the nature of these regions with the abundant underground reserves made this effort easy.
Natural Gas Industry's Birth
The basis of gas industry emerged in the USA and Europe was not natural gas, it was the gas produced from heating coal. The gas produced from heating coal, which was being used for lighting transformed the lifestyle of the people in the early 18th century. Working hours of factories increased and people could use lighting without having to buy and use expensive and hazardous candles; in this way, people could read newspapers and books.
Finally, a Scottish inventor called William Mordak was the first person who found out that using gas as a source of energy was easier than using coal, because it could be transferred by ship and was easy to control, as well. In 1792, William Mordak managed to use gas in order to provide his own house lighting. Later on, in 1799 someone called Philip Lyon accomplished a test on the gas resulted from heating sawdust and coal. He registered the gas distillation method resulted from wood.
Nevertheless, the French government refused to accept Philip Lyon's theory and viewpoint for expanding gas lighting system not until 1807 when for the first time Winsor used gas for lighting of London streets. At first, wooden pipes were used for transferring gas; however gradually some pipes such as cannon pipes related to the British Navy substituted for them.
In 1819, there was a pipeline of about 482 km, which supplied the required gas for about 50 thousand gas consumers. During those years, various activities commenced for utilizing gas in industry.
Although, Iranians were the pioneers of using gas and other oil derivatives, the first historical documents related to planned using of gas in Iran goes back to the era of Qajar and the kingdom of Naser-Al-Din Shah. In 1873, when king Naser-Al-Din Shah had a visit from London, he was surprised when he saw lights in the streets of London. Returning home, he ordered to construct and use gaslight factory.
In 1908, the first oil well drilled in Masjid Soleyman reached oil; and a huge amount of associated gas was flared due to the long distance between production sources and consumption origins on one hand and high cost of investment and low consumption rate in the south of Iran, on the other. But gradually oil reservoirs came into stream one by one and Iran thought of using natural gas for supplying the required uses of home sector, especially the houses of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) staff in oil-bearing regions such as Masjid Soleyman, Aghajari, Haftgel and Abadan. Even though the major activities of oil industry in those days included crude oil production, transmission and processing in southern Iran, agent companies carried out some limited activities for production and process of natural gas.
In Iran at first, just the oil was extracted while a plentiful amount of associate gas was also produced. From 1910 to 1960s, the associated gases were mainly flared. In early 1960s based on a contract signed with Russia, associated gases were gathered and transferred to Russia in lieu of constructing a steel mill in Iran. In fact, for 50 years the associated gases were flared without any use, but after gas export to Russia, the associated gases were supplied in Shiraz for the first time. In fact, Shiraz cement factory was the first factory which became gas-fueled and later on the gas network was expanded to some other cities in Iran. In this way, the gas which was uselessly flared for 50 years entered the gas distribution network and was used at home sector. Until no independent gas fields were discovered in Iran, it was natural to process and use associated gas in this way. Nevertheless, after discovery of some independent gas fields such as Kangan and South Pars, it was necessary to divide responsibilities regarding gas extraction between the NIOC and the NIGC. In other words, crude oil production, extraction, sales and export was left to the NIOC; and natural gas processing, transmission and distribution to the NIGC.
Around 50 years ago, the policies adopted by the NIOC paved the grounds for the NIOC to have access to technical and economic requirements to handle and restrain associated gases and consequently gather, process, transfer and sell them. Due to raising the issue of exporting gas to the foreign countries, comprehensive studies were completed and the project for the trans-Iranian gas pipeline known as IGAT I was implemented and came into stream. Due to the essentiality of leaving all the gas affairs to a single organization responsible for the determined responsibilities and objectives in future, and because of the general agreements between Iran and Former Soviet Union to expand economic cooperation in 1965 which led to inking a protocol in January, the same year, the issue of gas export was raised and the NIGC was established in March 1966 and started its activities. At present, the NIGC is one of the four major subsidiary companies of the Oil Ministry. The chairman of its general assembly is the esteemed president and the chairman of its Board of Directors is the Oil Minister.